For many, the start of a degree course is filled with trepidation, anticipation and uncertainty. To help remedy this, here are a few things you need to think about before you start uni…
The first hurdle you’ll have to overcome when you become a university student is meeting new people. Freshers’ week can, potentially, make or break your time at uni, so it pays to be friendly early. Even if you only spend a day with some people, the idea behind freshers’ week is to acclimatise yourself to the new surroundings, meet as many people as possible and then gradually refine what you do and who you do it with.
First impressions count
According to Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy, our first impressions are based on the answer to two questions:
- Can I trust this person?
- Can I respect this person?
Naturally, the process is slightly more nuanced than that as each question will have a variety of potential answers. For example, if you’re a fan of sports, then you might ‘respect’ someone more if they also follow sport. Similarly, if you enjoy ballet, you’re more likely to ‘respect’ the opinions of someone with the same interests. Leaving these nuances aside, if you can keep these two questions in mind when you meet your fellow students for the first time, you’re more likely to establish stronger bonds that will last throughout your time at uni.
Once you’ve found some friends, that’s when the fun begins. According to the NatWest Student Living Index 2017, the average student spends 91.7 hours a month doing ‘work’. Now, this will vary depending on the subject you’re studying. However, if we say that there are 168 hours in a week and, on average, four weeks in a month, that’s 672 hours of time we have in a month. So, based on this, you can expect to spend around 13% of your time studying. Once we take sleeping out of the equation, you’re basically left with a lot of time to have fun.
Taking time out
NatWest’s data also suggests that students spend £43.30 per month on socialising, which means activities have to be affordable and entertaining. For those who enjoy a social tipple, student union bars pride themselves on serving bargain beer, and there will be plenty of midweek student nights at local clubs to choose from.
Sport is a big part of student life for many. Wednesday is typically the day teams compete against each other, but the culture of sport is much more ingrained into uni life than that. Watching Match of the Day is as much a bonding exercise for footie fans as it is about the match highlights.
The same goes for using sites and social media to get the latest insights into the world of sports. For instance, scan the Twitter feed of BBC Sport and you’ll get personal insights via retweets from pro athletes and interview links. For statistical insights, Betway provides direct data from the latest sporting events as well as expert statistical summaries courtesy of bloggers such as Jack Green. Then, for an irreverent take on the latest football headlines, you’ve got SPORTbible. Basically, for students into sport, the internet is the ultimate resource. Getting online and staying up to date with the latest happenings in football, rugby and so on will help you connect with many of your fellow students.
Of course, if you’re not a fan of sport, the same is also true for movies, music, theatre and more. Basically, if you can immerse yourself in one of these subcultures, you stand a better chance of having fun with friends.
One of the biggest things that every student needs to worry about is money. Unfortunately, money makes the student world go around and budgeting is a crucial skill that every student has to learn.
For example, when it comes to saving money in the kitchen, learning to bulk buy, cook simple but filling food and then freezing it is essential. When it comes to entertainment, the aforementioned student union nights are a great way to go out and spend as little as possible, as are nights in with your housemates. Failing that, always look for a voucher or discount.
For some students, getting a job is an option. Part-time jobs that fit around your studies, such as bar work, campus jobs and online tutoring, are a great way to earn a few quid and not disrupt your overall experience too much. However, the one thing that’s important to accept is that you won’t be flush with cash during your time at uni. According to Student Loan Company statistics, the average student debt in 2017 was £32,220.
While you’re at university, it can be tempting to see your loan money, credit cards and overdrafts as a free ride. Sadly, that’s not the case – when you leave the bubble of academia, those debts don’t disappear. To avoid the student debt trap, try to adopt a money-saving mindset whenever possible and you shouldn’t go too far wrong.
So if you’re able to budget to make the most of your limited finances, find some friends and slip into the subcultures that define university life, you should be well on your way to having a life-changing experience!