Gareth Hughes, Project Worker for Business and Student Services, gives his top tips on how to make sure students are ready for university.
If you have a place at university, start by taking some time to congratulate yourself on your achievement. Getting to university isn’t easy and it doesn’t happen by accident. Reward yourself in some way and take time to enjoy what you’ve done.
Then it makes sense to spend a little time auditing your skills and making some plans:
Plan to look after yourself
Don’t ignore the basics. Eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, exercising and getting enough sleep can make a real impact. Not only on how much you enjoy your time, but also on your academic performance and quality of your learning.
If you aren’t used to thinking about all this yourself, spend some time thinking about how you will take care of your wellbeing. You might want to learn some new meals to cook, look up what sports facilities your university has or think about how much sleep you will need.
Plan to take care of practical demands
The biggest challenge facing many students is time management. You may find you have large blocks of time with nothing planned or that you are squeezing study into an already packed schedule.
Either way, it is important to plan to take control of your time – drifting and being inactive can be as bad as being too busy. If you aren’t used to managing your own time, try planning out a timetable.
If you’re leaving home, you may also want to brush up your cooking skills – it isn’t too late to learn some easy meals. Nor is it too late to learn how to use a washing machine or to shop cheaply and well.
Take time to plan out a budget so you know exactly how much you can spend each week and don’t run out of money half way through term.
Plan for fun
Many students stop doing the things they enjoy when they go to university because they think they won’t have time for it.
They leave their guitar at home, don’t bring their art supplies or stop playing sport. Keeping pleasurable activities in your routine. These will help your academic performance and you enjoyment of university. Take a look at what clubs and societies your student union offers and think about trying something new.
Plan your social life
You can probably start to contact people on your course or in your accommodation now via online forums. Take a look at what your student union offers during fresher’s week and take as many opportunities to make friends as you can.
Plan for learning
Learning at university is different from school. You will be expected to take control of much of your own learning. Your lecturer won’t tell you everything you need to know. That doesn’t mean you should know how to do this today – you have time to get used to it. But being ready for the difference will make it easier for you.
Spend some time familiarising yourself with key concepts and language (but don’t overdo it).
Your reading list will more than likely be available so it’s worth getting hold of it in advance so you can pick up the books and get ahead.
Plan to use the support on offer
Successful students use support and they do it quickly. Try to identify what support your university offers and think about how it could help you.