To those going to university: here's how to survive your first semester

Sophia Lamberton 10 October 2022
New students walking through their university

Uni life promises to be an adventure, especially if you follow this one-stop survival guide for Freshers.

Freshers’ Week is now over, and the new academic year has just begun. Speaking from experience, starting university has to be one of the most nerve-wracking things I’ve done so far. Whether you’re moving away from home or choosing to commute to uni, it can be really daunting. So we’ve put together our top tips for starting the new academic year with a bang! 

Take plenty of notes 

Anyone who’s been to university will tell you that the first few weeks will be intense, trying to adjust to a new environment, learning to budget, care for yourself and basically be an adult. You’ll also receive a lot of information from your tutors, so the best piece of advice we can offer here is to take notes.

Be sure to note any upcoming deadlines and key dates etc… The key here is to keep your notes all in one place. We recommend typing your notes up on OneNote, so you can access them from anywhere.

If you prefer to handwrite your notes, we recommend investing in some good-quality stationery. Take advantage of your student discount and bag yourself some highlighters, different coloured pens, a whiteboard and some post-it notes.

Don’t be afraid to ask

Asking for help or advice can be hard at times, but trust us, it will save you so much embarrassment later. Remember that your lecturers will be able to empathise with you because they were in a similar position at one point. Anyway, the chances are you’re probably going to ask the same things everyone else was too scared to. Plus, asking your lecturer a question makes you look proactive, which will definitely get you brownie points!

It’s completely normal to take a while to get used to doing things like cooking for yourself, organising your time, and learning how to budget. The chances are that most people in your accommodation are in the same situation as you, having just left home for the first time, so you’re not alone!

Remember that going to university is a big step, and the first year of uni is about finding your feet. If you’re struggling with budgeting or adjusting to uni life, speak to your university staff as soon as possible.

Make a timetable

Once you’ve noted all your deadlines and you know when all your classes are, the best thing to do is to try and organise your time and work out when you’re going to study. One way to do this is to check how much reading time you need for each module, then set aside a chunk of time to do your seminar readings and any other prep you need to do.

You’ll probably find it’s a case of trial and error with deciding which days you’ll set aside for different tasks, but the important things are to take plenty of breaks and be realistic with your schedule. For example, if you’ve been at uni from 9 am to 5 pm, the chances are you’re not going to be very productive that evening, so it’s best to give yourself a break and start the next day afresh.

Academic personal tutor

Most universities will assign you an academic personal tutor during your first week, and you’ll have one throughout your studies. Personal tutors are usually there to support you academically, with problems like finding ways to manage your time, or getting extra support if you have a disability. They can also refer to the relevant services if you’re struggling with any pastoral issues, such as homesickness and issues with your accommodation.

Speaking from experience, personal tutors are a really helpful first point of call if you’re not sure where to go if you need help, so ensure you make the most out of them! If you can, try to attend any meetings your personal tutor offers you and build a relationship with them. 

Have fun!

Source: GIPHY

Aside from studying, uni life is also about having fun! Your mental health and well-being are really important, so take breaks from studying and do something you enjoy. Taking time out will also help you to be more productive and give your brain a much-needed rest!

Most universities offer workshops and activities such as origami or macrame. We recommend checking out your students’ union website to see what activities are on offer.

Make the most out of the first few weeks at uni before the assignments start to pile up by going to student nights. Be sure to make the most out of the crazy student deals venues offer, such as free drinks vouchers, money off, freebies and merch. Also, keep a look out for brand promoters on the streets who usually hand out vouchers and wristbands for discounted entry to bars and clubs.

Why not start a new hobby by joining a society? Joining a new society is a great way to meet new people, and it can help you build your confidence.

Good luck to everyone starting university, and remember, you’ve got this!

Are you excited about the upcoming academic year? Join our panel and let us know. You’ll get 1000 reward points for signing up.

Sophia Lamberton 10 October 2022