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Preparing for university: 10 tips

You're off to uni and the countdown to Freshers’ Week is on. But in the weeks or even days before you head off, there's plenty you can do to get prepared for student life – here are 10 tips for starters…

Plus, find out what you can expect in your freshers’ term and which quirky societies you might come across at a Freshers' Fair…

1. Decide what stuff to take to uni

When moving away from home for the first time, the temptation can be to buy absolutely everything you could possibly need. But think carefully about what you’re going to bring, particularly when it comes to kitchenware – is a new microwave / toaster / kettle really necessary if your halls or private accommodation already provides this? Have you got enough room in your kitchen to have lots of your own equipment, and what could you potentially share with housemates? 

2. Sort out your student bank account

When it comes to student accounts, many banks offer:
  • a free overdraft facility of up to £3,000
  • a debit card
  • an optional credit card
  • an incentive for joining, such as a student railcard or discount on mobile broadband (we’d suggest looking into the overdraft facility on offer over and above any enticing freebies!).
The Which? Money team has compared student bank accounts to help you pick one to suit you. Remember, to prove you’re eligible for a student account, you’ll need to take your Ucas confirmation letter to the bank with you.

3. Start adding up those extra costs 

A not-so-insignificant four in ten of the freshers we spoke to last year told us they found it harder than expected to manage their money.

To get set for student money management, it’s good to start early – here's a heads-up on 10 things you’ll need to remember to budget for.

4. Buy your student gadgets...

According to Endsleigh Insurance, 96% of students take a laptop to university with them, while almost one in four have their own iPad. You should be able to manage without your own laptop or other tech by using university computers and printers, but having your own can make life easier.

The Which? tech team has rounded up these five student gadgets that won't blow your budget.

5. ...and your student essentials

Taking a laptop and other valuables to uni with you? Going to be travelling by train or coach? Want to receive student discounts? You’ll need these, then:
  • A travel card: save on trips to and from home by a third with a Young Persons railcard (£30 a year) or coachcard (£10 a year).
  • Contents insurance: if your personal possessions aren’t covered under your parents’ household insurance, then it could be worth getting a separate policy. 
  • NUS Extra card: loads of student deals on everything from entertainment and eating out to clothes and travel (£12 for up to three years). 

6. Sort out a student job

Bagging yourself a part-time student job can be a great way of coping with student living costs (and looks pretty good on your CV, too!). For flexible work you can fit in around your studying, your students' union is a good starting point…

7. Cook a meal

If university is going to be your first experience of cooking yourself, try out your culinary skills before you arrive - studentcooking.tv even features videos of students at unis around the UK showing you how to make some of their student favourites. 

8. Learn how to stretch your student loan

You might get excited by your bank balance the first time your student loan comes in, but trust us - it often doesn't go as far as you might hope. Our student blogger has lots of tips to help you stretch your student loan - and don't miss our student loan video tips from current students. 

9. Familiarise yourself with bills

If you're heading to halls, then utility bills and internet access are likely to be included in your rent - but if you're moving into private accommodation, then you and your housemates will need to get familiar with gas, electricity and water bills and sort out your own internet connection. 

If you're taking a TV with you to uni or plan on streaming live TV on your laptop, then you'll need to get yourself a TV licence (though you don't need one just to watch programmes on a catch-up service). 

10. Connect with your university on social media

Find your university’s official Facebook page or their Twitter account for freshers. As well as loads of useful updates about freshers’ week tickets, enrolling and other uni prep, you’ve got the chance to chat to fellow freshers and potential course and flatmates before you arrive! 


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