A helpful guide to starting University

So exam results are in and you now know where you are going to University, however you have lots of questions of what is going to happen and what you are going to do. So today to help you all I will tell you all a bit about what I did when I started University and answer some popular questions that new students want answered.

What I Did

I started University straight after finishing high school and was terrified because I had no idea what to expect in lectures, tutorials etc, it was a huge shock realizing the differences between a reasonably small high school to a whole campus. One thing that I dreaded was meeting new people as I was really shy but thankfully I already new some people going to the same University, although they were going to be studying different degrees I had the support base I needed to get started, I have grown to love attending University as  it was the best choice I could have made for me at the time and I have met some amazing people.

How will I know?

You have your acceptance to University now so what’s next? Right now many of you will be asking-What classes will I take? When do I enroll? What electives will I choose? How will I know all this?- Don’t panic! your University will contact you in some way and tell you all about it and what to do, normally first years enroll on campus where there are plenty of people to help you through it, you will get guides on what courses are mandatory, what are electives and how to choose them. The Universities know this is a stressful time for you and will help you out by keeping in contact with you as well as providing you with email and phone numbers of people to contact if you have any questions.They will provide you with timetables and tours and maps on where to go and how to get there.

How do I pay/get loans?

This depends on where you live or are going to University.

For Scottish students studying in Scotland- hopefully by now you have applied for SAAS funding, who will pay for your tuition if not please do so quickly and re-read everything to make sure they pay all your tuition or it can lead to stressful times. SAAS will also provide loans and additional help, check out their website to see what you are entitled to. Also, ask your University for help if needed they have great advice and are there to help you.

For other students- I will not pretend to be an expert here as I don’t know how people outside of Scotland pay their tuition fees/get loans, the best place to ask is your University, all Universities have advice centers etc that will help you with any queries

How will I make friends?

Here is the best thing to remember when you start Uni, everyone in your class is starting too, you are all nervous. In my experience everyone is friendly, you may not make great friends straight away but when you walk into lines, you will probably start chatting with whoever else is in line, whoever you sit next to- you will probably start talking to as well.

For people who are staying in University accommodation- go to the meet and greets, a party, talk to people in the hall. You may not like parties or are really shy but at least try one, you will find someone to talk to.

For people who are traveling to University- it will be harder to meet people than those who stay there but many clubs and societies in the University hold meet and greets and  nights out, which are brilliant ways to meet people with similar interests to you or studying the same degree as you.

It is scary starting University not knowing people on your course but you will find people to talk to. Freshers week and enrollment is a great place to meet others.

What books do I buy?

One thing Universities are notorious for is making expensive textbooks mandatory for courses. Yes, the books are expensive but here’s a few tips to help you save some money. Firstly, if it is a mandatory subject and you will be using the book a lot, it is probably best, especially in first year to buy the book. It will help a lot with studying and you will use it in the future to help you.

However if it is an elective, sometimes it is too much money to buy a book for one semester/term. Here is what I did, for electives I tended not to buy the expensive textbook as there are several other ways to get the book. 1. The library- the library is a brilliant place that will probably have the book you need, most courses give you a list of what to read therefore a great thing to do is borrow the book from the library and photocopy the pages you need or 2. The Internet-most books are online somewhere so just find the book that way, most likely your Uni has a subscription to the e-book so have a look at it that way.

What do I take?

Essentially what you need is exactly what you used at School before, everyone is different and learns differently so take what helps you, here is a list of things I take to Uni.

1. A good sturdy bag- its all good to want a nice bag but those huge books? yeah, they will ruin it and you need one that can carry everything

2. Something to take notes with- It’s a modern world and people learn differently, some prefer to take hand written notes (me) so a notebook is always in my bag, others prefer to write on tablets and laptops, or record lectures and write up notes at home.

3. LOTS of pens/pencil- you will go through them, that is a fact!

4. Anything else really that helps you with Uni work and studying such as sticky notes, highlighters etc

How will I learn?

each degree is taught differently so you will lean in different ways, many degrees are taught through lectures in big halls by professors, tutorials in classrooms taught by postgraduate students and seminars in smaller groups by Professors.

The different ways work very well together to help you, an example is that in tutorials you go over what you have learned in the Lectures. It is a great opportunity to ask questions that you didn’t want to ask in front of everyone.

How will I know where to go? 

I am not going to lie, at some point during your first few weeks you will get lost. It is a given. For your first day arrive early enough so that you can check out where your lectures/tutorials are so that you are not really late. There will probably be maps around to help you as well as information desks and staff to ask as well.

Who do I Talk To?

Every student enrolled in Uni will be given a Tutor who is your go to person when you have any problems/questions, they are there to help you with anything you need, whether its a problem with your course/timetable, a question about your degree or even anything to do with your personal life, they are there to help and listen.

So that is all for now, if you have any questions or want to talk about starting uni, leave a comment below or e-mail me at the address in the behind my blog page on my site. Good Luck!


2 thoughts on “A helpful guide to starting University

  1. I love how you added the whole “make sure they’re paying your whole tuition funds” part. It is very stressful, At least I know for certain that I’m sorted this year! 🙂

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