Tips for new students
First of all, congratulations with securing a place at a university of your choice. All your hard work during GCSE and A-Level paid off. You are one of the 241,585 (32.6%) of 18-year-olds who gained a place in higher education.
But now what? Here are some top tips ensure success at university.
After receiving your acceptance letter
Sort out your accommodation early
You have made your firm choice on UCAS and now it's time to sort out your accommodation to stay for the year. If you haven't yet already, this should be the first thing on your checklist. You certainly don't want to be homeless when attending university. While many universities guarantee accommodation to those that make university a firm choice, on-campus residence are extremely popular and you might be placed in halls miles away from campus. Many university towns also sport student accommodations run by private companies but they could be more expensive or further away from the campus that the university's own halls of residence. When comparing your accommodation choice, make sure to factor in the cost of utilities as well as the cost of transport.
Moving in day
Picture by John Benson
What to bring with you?
If you're anything like me, you will be tempted to bring your entire room with you. However, sometimes it might be more convenient to just buy the items online and ship it to the place of residence. Signing up to Amazon Prime student allows you to get your Amazon shopping delivered to your door within one day.
If your accommodation is similar to mine, you can start sending parcels there about 2 weeks in advance of your arrival. That means that you don't need to load your car to the brim with stuff. Your parents will certainly thank you for it.
If you do want to bring some items from home, here's what I would recommend:
- Duvet and duvet case
It would be good to bring a warm blanket or duvet. Universities in the UK start in September and the weather will quickly become cold in the coming weeks and months. In my experience, stores can run out of duvets, especially on moving-in week since everybody will be buying one.
- Enough clothing to last two to three weeks
You don't need to bring mountains of clothing since most student accommodations have onsite launderettes. If you want, you can bring your fancy clothes for parties or a suit for formal events.
- Extension cords
Not all places have conveniently placed sockets so extension cords are sometimes helpful
A laptop should be adequate for most students, and bringing one from home means you are familiar with it. If you don't have a laptop, have you considered buying a Chromebook? These laptops are low maintenance. I personally would recommend a Windows desktop as this has everything you need on it that you will need to use whilst at university.
Many student sites recommend bringing a bedsheet but I would email or call the accommodation to make sure the bedsheet you bring fits the bed you have. Also, if you don't know the size, use flat sheets rather than elastic ones as they can fit beds that are larger than the size they are made for, albeit not perfectly.
- Place an online order with your favourite retailer
Many high street retailers allow you to place groceries order with retailers like Tesco or ASDA who often deliver right to your door. I often make my first delivery purchase the evening of my arrival or the day after. It can work out cheaper as there can be deals online and not to mention more convenient.
Getting down to business
Now you have all your fun during Fresher's week and it's time to put your head down and study.
Organizing your work
Use online cloud storage like Google Drive or OneDrive to save your work
More often than not, your university will be subscribed to Office 365, which comes with 1 TB of storage. Make sure to back up your work to online cloud storage. You never know when your computer might be hit by a nasty virus or suffer technical problems. Also, working off cloud storage like Google Drive enables you to work from any computer, not just your own.
- Create a folder hierarchy and label each folder properly. Don't randomly assign names to the folders. This would make it easy for you to find your work on a later date.
- Download your lessons and save them on your cloud storage or hard drive
This may seem like an unusual tip but sometimes Blackboard (used by Swansea University) goes offline. So saving your lessons would allow you to access the lectures even if your University site crashes or have technical problems.
- Take plenty of notes during lectures
Personally, I would recommend using a tablet to take notes. This would enable you to store tons of notes without having to lug around tons of notebooks around. If you can't catch up, use your phone to take pictures of your lecturer's writing.
- Film your lectures
This may seem a bit controversial so ask your lecturer before using your mobile phone to film. Filming the lecture makes it easier for you to review them later on at your leisure. A lot of Swansea university courses use lecture capture to store the lecture slide along with the lecturer's teachings. However, not all lectures use it and the audio quality may be poor depending on how far the lecturer is from the mic.
Watch out for phishing email
University students are often a prime target for phishers and hackers. I have made a handy article about how to keep yourself safe online. Also, practice caution lest you hand over your student log in to spammers who use your account to spam other students and academics.
These are my top tips for university. Be sure to check out my other advice articles and pop lwc (good luck) with your future!
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