Thorough preparation is crucial for a hassle-free transition to college. From confirming your accommodation to packing for uni, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things to do before going to university. So what must you prepare for when starting university?
Here are the top 12 tips that will guide you to get ready for uni and have a successful university life.
1. Prepare a Student Budget
The most important thing you can do before starting university is to learn how to manage your finances. All you need to do is create and stick to a student budget. You can use an excel spreadsheet or budgeting apps to create and track your budget.
Follow these steps to create your personalised budget:
- Calculate your total income, which can be in the form of:
- Scholarships, grants, or bursaries
- Education loan
- Money from guardians/parents
- Side-hustle income
- List your expenses, for instance:
- Study materials
- Bills (water, electricity, mobile phone, etc.)
- Transport (car fuel, bus, train, etc.)
- Eating out
- Gym membership
- Estimate the amount you will spend on each expense category
When allocating money to your expense categories, prioritise the necessary ones, such as rent, course materials, food, and bills. Remember to ask for discounts for students in restaurants, movie theatres, and tourist parks to save extra money.
2. Continue Applying for Scholarships
Scholarships and grants make uni more affordable. The government, universities, individuals, and independent organisations offer such opportunities.
There are enough programs that target different types of students, so you can qualify for a few.
Most scholarships eligibility criteria include your:
- Socioeconomic background
- Degree program
- Academic performance
- Talents like athletics
Unless you have secured a full-ride scholarship, keep applying for more opportunities. Even if the funding will not apply to your first year of university, it is not early to plan on how to pay for your sophomore year.
3. Learn Time Management Skills
College comes with unstructured time. You have to decide when to do your assignments, get homework help, socialise, volunteer, etc.
Use Google Calendar and other free time management tools to establish routines that allow you to prioritise your studies, observe deadlines, and engage in social activities. Good time management skills are crucial to balancing your academic and social life.
Some of the best planning apps for university students are Listastic, Todoist, and iStudiez.
For an outstanding university experience, your routine can include time for:
- Assignments and extra study
- Social activities
- Volunteer activities
4. Attend Orientation
Freshman orientation programs are designed to help you understand the university better. Your school will host fairs during the freshers week to help you discover more about:
- Student support services (safety, counselling, mental health, career guidance)
- Clubs and organisations
- University facilities, such as campus hostels, healthcare facilities, recreation centres, and other buildings
Joining clubs is the best way to meet new students with whom you have similar interests.
You can also participate in social activities—like evening parties—which help you connect with other students and make new friends. Check the orientation week schedule, and choose the activities you’ll attend.
5. Create Your University Packing List
Find out what you should and shouldn’t include in your university packing list. While everyone requires particular items when starting university, like electronics (laptop, cables), your choice of accommodation can determine what you need to carry. For instance, most college halls of residence come with essential kitchen appliances. Your storage space will also affect the items you pack.
For course materials, you can wait for your classes to begin to identify the necessary materials and source cheap textbooks. Keep in mind that campus bookstores are pretty expensive.
6. Familiarise Yourself With Your Subject
One way to get excited about your course and feel more confident about your choice is to read background information on the field. You can start with the reading list provided by your school and incorporate free online content. This will give you a good idea of what to expect during your first few weeks of university.
To stay up to date with the latest developments in your field, you can set up Google alerts for the subject.
You should also find out if there are any computer programs you must use in your course, and begin to familiarise yourself before starting uni. The computer software will vary based on your degree program and school. Most students use Office 365 for schoolwork, especially Outlook for university emails. You may also need to brush up on your PowerPoint and MS Excel skills.
7. Prepare a University Student Meal Plan
Meal planning is the easiest way to determine your monthly food budget. It involves writing down your meals for the entire week or month. Once you know what you will eat for the whole week, you shop for all the ingredients at a go.
You can also prepare your meals in advance and store them in a freezer/fridge.
Meal planning will save you time, help you stick to your budget, and enable you to eat healthy meals.
During your first few weeks on campus, pay attention to the amount you spend on food and adjust your food budget.
8. Prepare To Interact With Your Professors
Your professors can help you beyond classwork and projects. They can guide you on how to explore your subject deeply, for instance, by suggesting additional research or topics beyond your course materials. You can also turn to them for guidance on career paths.
If you develop good relationships, your lecturers can act as references for later internships and jobs.
9. Complete Your Online Enrollment With the University
Check your school email and complete any steps required by your university, for instance:
- Enrolling in your university portal
- Applying for students ID
You can access your class timetable, study materials, calendar of events, and opportunities that relate to you in your school portal.
Your student ID card gives you access to the university library and other campus facilities. To get the ID, you are required to upload your photo online and pick the card at the university when it’s ready.
10. Get a Student Bank Account
Student bank accounts are designed to give students benefits, such as freebies and interest-free overdrafts. To open a student bank account, you will need to prove your student status (uni acceptance letter, school ID, etc.)
Take advantage of your time before you start uni to compare different offers and identify the right account for you.
Despite the many freebies that may come with the card, for instance, free products, travel discounts, and cash rewards, you should prioritise an interest-free overdraft. This is because if you borrow money through an overdraft, you will pay it back with 0% interest.
11. Apply for a Tax File Number (TFN)
If you want to obtain an educational loan through the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), you must have a tax file number (TFN) or a certificate of application for TFN.
You can apply for a tax file number through the Australian taxation office.
12. Find Your Best Study Methods
Do you learn best in the morning or at night? Would you prefer to study in a group or learn solo?
You should identify the study method that works for you and utilise it when you start university. Such a level of awareness will help you avoid pressure to emulate your peers and stay focused on what works for you.