Going to uni: our guide on prepping for university

You’ve gotten over the first hurdle – you’ve applied and are going to uni. But now you’ve gotten a swarm of emails of everything that needs to be done before it begins. Some of you may be moving away from home for the first time, and getting your first whiff of independence. This will seem daunting, with things such as setting up a bank account and “matriculation” suddenly floating into your inbox. But I’m here to clear up a few of these worries. I promise University is not as scary as it might seem!

Paying your tuition/accommodation fees

Pretty soon after you accept your offer you should receive and email to set up a student account on their university portal. In most cases everything you need to access will be on here. Including how to pay your tuition and how to sign up and pay for university accommodation. Tuition is usually paid directly via credit or debit card online. This is something you will want to sort out as soon as you get the email because they run on deadlines.

You will also need to apply for student finance. Go onto student finance website and make an account. Fill in all your details and specify whether you want a tuition grant and/or a maintenance grant. A maintenance grant is money that you receive throughout the year to fund your living expense. It depends on the income of your household.

When it comes to accommodation, most universities will let you select your top choices even if you have a conditional offer. I would recommend doing this as soon as possible, because the more “desirable” accommodations do fill up fast.

Setting up a bank account

If you opt for university accommodation they will usually provide you with an electronic copy of a “bank letter”. Make an appointment at your bank to create an account. Take the letter with you to prove proof of address. All you have to do is sign some documents and you have a UK account. As this is all done in person, bring enough cash with you to hold you over the first few days. Do keep in mind, if you are an international student your bank account options might be a little more limited.

Your university should be able to give you a list of banks they recommend for students. I would keep in mind where your future studies might bring you.

  • Want a career abroad? Consider setting up a more internationally present bank, such as HSBC.
  • Enjoy travelling? Create an online Mastercard account with Monzo so you can enjoy the most accurate currency exchange rates and not be charged for transactions abroad.
  • Look at all the student offers different banks have available, some are more generous than others, which might be a consideration. For example, the 123 student current account at Santander gives you a free 16-25 railcard.

Registering for the GP and Dentist

The university GP is the most convenient so will fill up fast. Make sure to figure out where the closest one is before you arrive, and familiarize yourself with the registration process. You don’t want to leave this to the last minute and then have to register while your limping around with a sprained ankle.

Budgeting for the year

If you know you are someone who struggles to make ends meet, then I cannot stress how important it is to budget. Sit down early on, even before you arrive to university, and work out how much you have per month. Then break it down into how much you need for accommodation per month, how much for food, utilities, and social activities. If you have enough put some aside for emergencies. Once you make the budget, do not deviate from it, if you do, you will find yourself struggling at the end of the year. Especially if you spend all your student loan as soon as you get it!

It is also important to note if you are someone who will struggle financially, most universities have hardship funds and other scholarships available for students, which might alleviate some of that financial pressure. 

What to make sure you have when you arrive

Make a note of any welcome lectures your school has put on. This is where you’ll get the necessary information from your particular department. You should have also been assigned a Personal Tutor before arrival. They should have reached out to you about arranging a meeting. If not, be sure to send an email to your school to make them aware of this.

Getting ready for university may seem like a never-ending checklist, but being prepared will mean that you will be able to enjoy your Fresher’s Week to its fullest!

Written by Sophie Z.

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