Nine things you must do this summer to be ready for uni

students walking on campus

Get set for the fresher life


UEA

Going to uni doesn't seem real until you get your grades. You spend so much time applying, revising and generally working your butt off that it comes as quite a shock when results day turns up and - holy cow! - you're actually going to university. But it's true. In just weeks you'll be a fresher and it's time to get prepped. Tick these tasks off and you'll be ready.

messy kitchen top

Learn to cook

There's a mild kind of hedonism to buying takeaway every night ("hmmm, shall I cook a healthy and nutritious noodle dish or just go Dominos again? DOMINOS!) - but overdo the Deliveroo and you're going to burn through your student loan pretty fast.

You need to master some quick and easy dishes so you can keep yourself alive without spending a fortune. If your current signature dish is peanut butter on toast, that means it's time to get practising. There are hundreds of ideas in the TSR recipe book - pick a few and try them out over the summer to get your skills up.

Hannah, a third-year English literature student at UEA, says: "Ask your folks to write out your favourite recipes. Being able to recreate some home cooking can help with homesickness and the strangeness of your new life until you settle in. A recipe for a good group meal is also a way to win over new flatmates."

packing boxes outside van

Make a packing list

Don't overdo this; you really don't need to pack too much into your off-to-uni bag. Actual packing can wait until the day before you go, but for now just have a think about what you need for your halls, course and day-to-day living and make a list. Our interactive 'what to take to uni' checklist can help you get started. Do make sure you're covered for any random temperature changes. You're starting uni at the beginning of October and this is the UK, so who says it's not going to snow on you?

Hannah says: "Plan early and with a cool head. You don’t want to be having a complete panic the night before when you’re already nervous. It also means you don’t have to pack any dirty clothes you forgot to wash in time."

Open a bank account

Yep, you've already got a bank account, but it's the one your nan opened for you when you were five because it came with a free Thomas The Tank Engine DVD. Securing a hefty interest-free overdraft was less of a priority back then.

These days you need one that's going to let you go into the red without hammering you with interest. You also need one with good freebies, (but don't be swayed by the giveaways if the payoff is a pittance of an overdraft). Check our student bank accounts round-up for what's on offer this year.

Start a budget

There is no way in the world to make budgeting exciting. But while spreadsheets are boring, running out of money after four weeks of the first term is 100 times more so.

This doesn't have to take ages. Just add up your incoming money for the first term, then take away any outgoings you already know about (rent and the like). Whatever's left, divide it by the number of weeks in your term: this is your weekly budget for food, transport and hazy nights in the union. It's probably not going to be much, which is where you need the next step...


Plan getting a job

Everyone needs to work while they're at uni. Well, everyone except that randomly minted guy who reckons he's a prince from some exotic country. He's going to be just fine buying endless rounds of shots and doing his weekly shop at Waitrose. You, on the other hand, are going to need a few extra quid.

Since everyone's in the same boat, this means student-friendly jobs are in high demand and short supply. Have a look online at the student union jobs available at your uni (and find out why this is the best kind of job to have at uni). Check the online local job boards too. If you know the job you're after, you can jump on it as soon as you arrive, while the other freshers are still waiting for their loans to arrive.

Check out the societies

Ignore societies at your peril. They really are the hidden gem of uni life: you meet a whole new social group outside your bubble of halls and course and you get gently coerced into doing something different (and fun) with your time that doesn't (just) involve boozing or sleeping.

You do get various worthy benefits from them as well - they're good for filling a CV and for learning new skills. Check your union's website to see what's available and make a note to join those you love during Freshers Week, so you don't forget.

Katie, a third-year history student at UEA, says: "Be open to trying new things and if you can’t find a society that fits you, you could always start one yourself!"

club full of people

Buy event tickets for Freshers Week

Some of the biggest nights in Freshers Week sell out fast, and if you're paranoid about being struck down by FOMO in your first week you could buy your tickets now. Hannah shares this advice: "Only buy tickets through your university or your student union – lots of clubs will try and tell you that their event is THE official one but unless they’re promoted by the SU then this is probably not true. Also, don’t panic buy everything. Try to leave a few nights free so you can make plans with your new friends or just take a break for an evening."

Katie says: "Remember you might spend a lot more than usual in freshers week, so make sure you budget extra money for that."

Find your coursemates

Every fresher worries about meeting people, but the truth is that Freshers Week is the most sociable time in your entire life. Everyone talks to anyone and you meet people in no time. You can also get a headstart by doing a bit of social networking. Find flatmates and coursemates in Facebook groups and in TSR's uni forums. Break the ice online and then you already know people when you arrive.

Look up your course

There may be one or two things you need to do before your course starts, such as choosing your first year modules. Your uni will be in touch if there's anything you need to do before you arrive, if not you can get ready with some general prep. Katie says: "Check if your course has a reading list or tips for preparing to study. It’s helpful to buy things like folders and stationery before September, so you’re ready to start your course."

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