Surviving university: a guide for freshers

JenAngelStarred Page By JenAngel, 6th Oct 2011 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Education

University life can be hard. Money worries, making friends, fending for yourself in the big wide world (how do you work the washing machine again?)

This page is designed to make your life that little bit easier. Here's a list of tips and resources for you to bookmark.

Don't worry about your money, this tips will help you!

Running out of money is something most students can prevent, there’s really no need to go broke and then rely on your parents for handouts or your mates for loans to tide you over.

Think about your cash now to save these problems in the future.

TIP 1 - It’s boring, but it needs to be done. Cost out all of your expenses and chart them against how much money you’re getting. Be frugal and draw up a budget. Include rent, bills (including water, gas and electric), car related costs (insurance, tax, petrol) or travel if you don’t own a car, food, going out, clothing and uni books.

TIP 2 - Stick your loan into a savings account. Have your rent taken from the savings account and set up a direct debit straight to your current account for your budgeted ‘spends’. You’ll then know exactly how much you have to spend per week, like a wage!! No chance of overspending!

TIP 3 - Think about getting a part time job as soon as possible. Although your loan has only just hit your account, you don’t want to be working six months down the line when you have an essay to write and exams to revise for. Get a job now and save up your wages for when things get tight at the end of the term. You can even get your wage paid straight into your savings account.

TIP 4 - Choose your job wisely. Sure a bar job on a Friday evening would be fun but would you end up out afterwards, drinking away what you’ve earnt? A job in a retail store would be nice, but would the discount make you spend more on clothes you don’t need? Working in large supermarket isn’t the most glamourous of jobs but it’d be totally worth it if you get 20% off your food shopping! Kerching!

For a tonne of advice on putting together your CV, writing a cover letter and most importantly, how to make your job application sound good when you have no experience whatsoever, try this site:

How to make friends at university

Making friends can be daunting if you’re moving away from home for the first time, but don’t worry! Everyone is in a similar situation with you and they probably feel the same way too!

To ensure you come across as fun, friendly and approachable, think about doing the following things:

* Buy in some wine and/or beer for the first night. Everyone will be nervous so it’ll be nice for you all to have a drink together. If you have alcohol on hand everyone is sure to remember your generosity!

* Bring everything (including the kitchen sink!) and be willing to share! If you’re the only person in halls with a corkscrew and a bottle opener, everyone is going to NEED to be your friend! Think out of the box and bring a few communal use items that everyone needs but nobody else ever remembers to win people round... Cooking tongues, garlic press, oven gloves, pegs, coat hangers etc.

* Bring sweets. A bucket of pick-n-mix is one of the best ways to make mates. Sit in the kitchen chomping jelly worms and pink shrimps with your cup of tea. Offer them around and soon you’ll be chatting away (probably induced by a frenzy of e-numbers!)

* Keep your door open. Even if you fancy a bit of time to yourself or you’re quite shy and don’t fancy sitting downstairs in the kitchen make sure you stay approachable by keeping your door open (when appropriate, obviously!)

Fending for yourself

Once you get to uni it’s harder to fend for yourself. It's a big wide world out there and like most students, you've had your parents looking after you for the last 18 years! It can seem daunting at first, but trust me, it isn't!

Here are some quick tips on fending for yourself:

* Go with a friend on your first laundry day (preferably one who looks ‘domesticated’) and tackle the washing machines together. Power in numbers. Remember this basic rule: wash whites together, brights together (reds/pinks/purples/oranges) and dark colours (brown, black, grey, blue) together.

* Eat well. Plan your meals in advance and eat properly. Don’t buy junk from the corner shop every evening, instead make the effort to visit the supermarket once a week. If you can, shop local at the butcher and greengrocer. It’s loads cheaper, tastier and healthier!

* Cleaning. You probably hate it, but you don’t want to be fined at the end of the term, do you? Spend as little as half an hour a week hoovering your carpet and sorting out your room. Don’t let your room become a diabolical mess and lock the doors so the cleaners can't get in each week! Otherwise, at the end of the year you’ll end up with a stinky, disgusting room that the university will end up fining you for because it needs extra cleaning to make it habitable again!

* Always ask before you use other people's property. DON'T steal others' food. If you use a kitchen utensil or pan, make sure you wash it straight after, it's only fair. This will ensure everybody gets along just great!

Free stuff, free money & discounts!

Groupon - provides loads of discounts, coupons & really good deals. Earn £6 every time you enlist a housemate and they buy something.

Student Beans - get exclusive student discounts and more with student beans. Get deals on cinema offers, theme park deals and food packages and more!

NUS Extra - Buy an NUS extra card to make lots of savings over the next three or four years. You can save between 10-20% on clothing, travel and eating!

TopCashBack - free to join and gives you FREE cash back every time you purchase something through the site. It works through affiliate networking - some shops pay websites a commission for promoting them. TopCashBack gives this commission straight back to you, the buyer. It's FREE money!

FreeStuff - get free samples and save money. A tube of toothpaste here, shower gel there.. it all adds up. Save a few quid by using samples and spend that on a treat instead!

Free plagiarism checker - wicked little piece of software that's absolutely free for checking your work for accidental referencing slip ups.

Resources to help your uni work

You've come to this establishment and paid exuberant fees to get an education. Remember that! Don't waste it away.

Here are some handy educational resources:

Mega busy essay themed site with lots of free stuff to help you with writing

Online Writing Lab. For the US but I still found lots of tips here

iTunes U - free lecture podcasts. VERY useful.


Essay, Free Stuff, Help, Helpful, Life, Links, Resources, Student, Tips, University, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar JenAngel
I'm a 41 year old Business Development Manager and FCILEx and former lecturer with a passion for writing about business, marketing, law and education related topics.

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