The start of university is looming, the clock is ticking and if it's your first year you've probably got all sorts of questions that you want answered before you head off for Fresher's Week. The actual point of Fresher's Week is to get new students settled into the university and to give them a chance to get to know their peers. What it will feel like is a money-draining social whirlwind where you might be a bit overwhelmed. Here is how to get the balance and timing right with our vital tips to preparing for Fresher's Week:
The first thing to point out is rather obvious. When you depart for university, be sure that you have accommodation sorted out. In your first year you'll receive a lot of help with organising this. Ensure you have somewhere that's convenient for the university and transport links. Make a packing list and pick up all those necessities you're missing in advance.
Read through the Fresher's Pack from the university. Take the time to look up what's essential and what's optional; there are certain things that you can't miss. For example registration - make sure you've been sent information and if you haven't, then get on the phone. No-one will hold your hand or accept 'I didn't know I had to' as an excuse for not having the right information or been through the right processes.
Make time to go to the Fresher's Fair - it's the one time that you can see everything the university has to offer in terms of sports and extra-curricular activities. Plus it gives you a chance to meet the people in these teams and clubs, which should give you a fair idea of what it'll be like. Take a pen or note things down in your smart-phone or iPad as you will need to remember all the information you are given. There are lots of free excursions and taster sessions on offer at the fair - take advantage to try new things.
Don't feel pressured to try everything - do things at your own pace (drinking included) and if you do not want to drink follow our drink replacement guide on "8 reasons why you shouldn't drink and what you can eat instead" at Fresher's Week. University is what you make of it and only you know what you want to get out of the experience. Try to balance things in your favour. Make your own rules and stick to them. You'll be surprised how accommodating people will be.
Remember It Is About Academics Too
Academically speaking, check the reading list and see which book you can get online or second hand in the university library shop. For those studying an MBA course you can find many discounted business books on EBay, I personally love the international bestseller "The 80 minute MBA" which is fresh, informative and available for only 99p on EBay. If you can get in any of the reading done before university starts, all the better, it will mean that you can have a guilt-free Fresher's Week having done some preparation. Some people wait until they start their course to see which books they really need - but with prepared planning you will be ahead of the class.
University is going to be where your budgetary skills will be honed. Whether you're getting a grant or a loan or tapping into the bank of Mum and Dad, there will be a limit to your funds, so make sure you have a good idea of outgoings and stick to it. Paying for tuition, you will already be in enough debt when you leave, don't make it worse. Open a student bank account - they usually come with fun freebies but check which one is good in the long run - interest-free overdraft, branch on campus and in town.
Your Check List
• Sort your student loan out ASAP - it will take a while to come through
• Organise accommodation
• Write a packing list (and then actually pack it)
• Arrange how you will get to university (parents/sibling/friend/train)
• Sign up for something crazy and something you know you'll like
• Grab those freebies
• Join the NUS - a must otherwise you won't get your discounts in shops, entry to the Union bars
• Join the library
• If you don't know - ask!