Gareth Hughes, Psychotherapist and Researcher at Derby, talks about what to do now you have your place at university.
Stop, breathe and think – what do you want to get from being a student?
Lots of students get carried along on a wave that ends with them arriving at university, without ever really thinking about whether it is what they actually want. It is better to think about this now and be clear about your choice rather than later down the line when you have invested time, energy and money.
Even if you are sure that university is for you, it is still worthwhile spending some time thinking about why you want to go. Having a clear idea of what you want from your university will ensure you get the best from your experience and will help you to stay motivated.
Try to visualise your time at university and focus on what you want (not what your parents, partner or previous school want). Why have you chosen this subject – can you imagine studying it for three years and enjoying it? Why this university?
You’ll have benefited from thinking about these things before you arrive and if you do realise this isn’t what you want – it isn’t too late to change your mind now.
Get the practical stuff done now
Don’t put off those forms and practical arrangements. Having everything in place before you go to university will make the process much less stressful.
Sit down and work your way through any forms or emails you’ve been sent by your university – if you aren’t sure about something call them and ask. There will be staff available to answer your queries.
Have you applied for your funding? If you need extra support, have you applied for Disabled Students Allowance? The Student Finance website can provide you with all the details of what you’re entitled to and how to apply. Try to plan out a budget before university starts.
If you are leaving home to go to university make sure your accommodation is sorted before you leave. Most universities have accommodation offices that can help you find somewhere but don’t just turn up expecting to find a place to stay. If you do you may end up having to take inappropriate accommodation a long way from campus.
Universities exist in their own worlds – they are unlike any other environment you will have encountered before. We know that being in new environments can feel stressful and feeling alienated can make the early weeks of term more difficult.
Familiarise yourself with your new university
If possible, try to visit your new university and have a look around. If not, spend some time on the website getting to know as much about it as you can.
You can also find online forums for most universities, where you can meet some of your new class mates or flat mates. It will make it easier when you arrive if you know some people and feel that you have started making friends.
Try to spend a little bit of time familiarising yourself with your chosen subject, especially if it’s one you’ve never studied before. Don’t go overboard – you don’t need to know everything yet, but familiarising yourself with some of the language and ideas will really help you early on.
Believe you can do well
If you get a place at a university then you have the ability to be there. Trust in the judgement of the professionals at your new university and start planning to do well.
Those of us who work at universities know that this can be an emotionally turbulent time – exciting, scary, stressful, uncertain… whatever you feel, it’s okay. Use your imagination to help you get beyond this time. Imagine how you will be in six months when you’ve settled in, made friends, are working hard and enjoying university life.
Simple mental exercises like this can help you feel more confident and make the process of going to university more enjoyable.
Remember too, that your university will have staff in place to support you. Use us! We only exist to help you.