Before You Go To University

There are few more exciting and nerve-racking moments in life than leaving for university. If you spend some time thinking about the big things – money, housing, what you need for the first day – you can reduce the nerves. The following advice covers these essentials.

Before you go to university

Aside from packing and making sure you have everything you need (see university checklist), use this time to head off potential headaches. The more you know about your university, whether it’s accommodation rules or your first module’s reading list, the more confident you will feel. Make an appointment with your GP and confirm you are up-to-date on your injections for mumps and meningitis; get your NHS card, if you don’t already have one – you will need it to register with the university medical service.

Finally, look at the freshers’ week events – likely there will be many opportunities for embarrassment in fancy dress. Why not get a few things together for your first outfit!


For many, if not most, this means living in halls of residence. Shared spaces, often with communal showers and kitchens, halls are popular because they tend to be the cheapest option and they are a great way of meeting people. Check the regulations and remember that as a shared space, you will be expected to do your share of cleaning. Nothing creates tension like piles of unwashed dishes.

Many universities offer private managed accommodation. More expensive than halls, these rooms generally include all costs in one price. Essentially, this is a flat-share minus some of the hassle of private housing. A great option if you have the money and people you want to live with. If looking on your own, it may be worth visiting the university forums to find like-minded people in search of the same thing.

Student bank accounts

Managing loans and overdrafts – they can be overwhelming for the person unused to managing their money. A student bank account is a buffer that can absorb some poor financial decisions. These accounts give access to large interest free overdrafts, as much as 3,000 in some cases, and there’s no reason not to aim for the biggest.

But don’t let the size of the overdraft be the only factor in your decision. Go with an established bank and one with excellent customer service ratings. Many banks will display the maximum overdraft they offer on promotional material, when in fact you will, at first, only be eligible for half that amount or less.

Finally, many of these accounts come with freebies. Try to factor in the more practical of these. Yes, a new iPod would be nice but you will get a lot more value out of young person’s railcard.

University checklist

This could be a very long list but will, of course, vary from person to person. Start making a list in the months before you leave for university. Carry a notepad round with you – if you see something you think you need, make a note. Ask yourself a series of questions – what do I need for my studies? What do I need for my room? What do I need for the bathroom? The kitchen? Do I have clothing for all seasons and different kinds of events? Do I have everything I need for the first day – a copy of my offer, proof of tuition fee payment, passport or some other form of ID? By doing this you can narrow down a list of essentials.

Preparation really can ease nerves before taking up a university place. Understanding what’s involved in very important aspects like money and housing, will free you up to get the most out of the social side and make the best possible beginning to your university career.