Once you’ve decided to go to university, the prospect seems very exciting – and rightfully so! You’re moving out, away from your family home and to somewhere potentially miles away. But that does also mean there are a few life skills you will need for university. From handy fixers to keeping your appearance in order, here are 10 life skills to practice this summer before you head off.

1. How to iron

skills for university

If you’re going to be going for job interviews, dates, placements, grad job interviews (eventually), then knowing how to iron is essential. You will need to iron your clothes at some point, it’s almost guaranteed. So that’s why it’s high on our list of life skills for university to get good at. However, one way to avoid your clothes needing to be ironed (and it works 80% of the time) is to let them air-dry hung up. Put your clothes neatly on a hanger as soon as they’re washed, and hang them in your room (ideally above the radiator).

Failing that, you can also buy steamers, but they’re not great in student houses and accommodation as they add to the humidity and moisture in the air. You’re generally better off learning to iron. It’s not hard! Just make sure you don’t stop moving the iron, keep it filled with water, and watch the temperature!

You’ll also need to know how to descale irons that don’t have a self-clean function. Usually, this can be done by just filling the iron, turning it onto the highest setting, leaving for around 4 to 5 minutes and then pressing Steam twice. Leave for 30 minutes, empty the water unit and wipe down.

2. How to unblock a plug

how to unblock a drain

You will undoubtedly, at some point, encounter a stubborn plug. Whether it’s because you have really long hair, or use too much conditioner, or the pipe beneath it is a bit shoddy – regardless, you’ll need to know how to fix it when it blocks. Otherwise, your sinks and showers will fill up too fast.

You can just buy a drain deblocker from your local supermarket, however, it is not always cheap and student budgets are tight. It’s also really bad for the environment! The alternative options are: a scattering of salt and then boiling water, or baking soda then vinegar. The latter does tend to smell a little, so you might need to light a candle or put an air freshener in after!

3. How to store food properly

skills for university

One of the key life skills you need for university and just general life anyway is knowing what goes where in the kitchen. When you come back from your first food shop, you really don’t want to put things in the wrong storage spaces and have them go off. So learn what goes in the fridge, the freezer, the cupboard. Learn where is best to put things in the fridge, and what you can eat frozen versus what will need defrosting before use. This will save you time, money, and stress. Guaranteed.

4. How to cook

skills for university

We’re not saying you need to be Michelin star level, but something more than Cup A Soup, Super Noodles and beans on toast is useful. Yes you could follow the lazy student meal plan, but if you want to not feel ill, you really don’t want those to be your only meals. Whilst you’re probably reading this thinking “I’ll just get ready meals or takeaways”, trust us, those costs add up. Spaghetti bolognese as a ready meal is £2 – £4, but to cook a batch (say 3 or 4 servings) is around £1 – £2. That’s half the price, and double the nutrients.

Just learn enough staple cooks, and you’ll get by. We suggest learning how to cook pasta, chicken, vegetables, and jacket potatoes. Everything that goes with those, you can usually just whack in the oven or stir through.

5. How to do laundry

life skills at university

The amount of times students move away from home and realise that they now have to face the dreaded washing machine, and have absolutely no clue what to do is ridiculous. Whilst not every washing machine is the same, the key things to know are:

  • Don’t wash whites with colours
  • Don’t wash bras in the machine (it can ruin the bra and the machine!!)
  • Tie socks together to avoid the sock goblin
  • Use colour catchers
  • Lower the heat, the better for the environment
  • Check your pockets! (tissues in the washing machine leads to your entire load being covered in tiny bits of lint)
  • Clean the rubber seal – it will go mouldy
  • clean the lint filter – it will smell

Washing your clothes right is a life skill for university, and one to make sure you always look good! You never know who you might meet there!

6. How to clean

skills for university

Nobody is going to want to come hang at yours for pre drinks if your dorm resembles the local recycling centre. There are plenty of little hacks to keep your space tidy, like making sure you have a big enough bin in your room so you don’t have to empty it daily; getting into the habit of taking plates and cups back after each use; hoovering on a certain day each week. The key things you need to know how to do when moving out are:

  • Cleaning the toilet (it’s easy, really)
  • Wiping down surfaces
  • Hoovering
  • Washing up

Other than that, you’ll probably manage. Besides, if you do want to do a deep clean, WikiHow is your friend.

7. How to manage your own time

life skills for when you're at university

One of the hardest things about university is not having anything or anyone telling you to do your work, or go to lectures, or not sleep for 17 hours straight. So learning to do this yourself is essential. It isn’t a huge deal if you miss a lecture or two, we’ve all been hungover, attacked by fresher’s flu or just simply… forgot. But if you can learn to manage your time, assignments will be so much easier for you. There’s also lots of apps to help you study, with many focusing on time management too!

8. How to do a big food shop

skills for university

This sounds ridiculous, right? But doing a big food shop is actually more work than you think, which is why we say it’s a life skill for university and later on. Say you go in and buy £100 worth of stuff for the month, get in, and all of it goes off in 3 days, none of it pairs with anything else to make a meal, and your cupboards are already full. Whoops.

When doing your food shop, make sure that you:

  • Check the dates of your items (the back of the shelf is usually where the longest keeping products are)
  • Try and plan meals as you go, don’t just pick up random things
  • Take a list, you’ll save money
  • Take bags with you if you want to avoid extra charges (and excess rubbish at home)

9. How to do phone calls

skills for university

Nobody likes phone calls anymore, they’re weird, uncomfortable, and honestly, we hate holding the phone to our face for that long. But at some point whilst at university, you are likely to need to do a phone call. Whether that’s to register for a GP, to speak to people back home, or for job interviews. It might even be to phone in sick at work. Regardless of why you’ll need to know how to speak on the phone to make sure you don’t get flustered and just jabber on at whoever is on the other end!

10. How to budget

skills for university

Students and debt go hand in hand. But you can limit the amount of debt you rack up by trying to stay out of your overdraft, and the way to do this is by budgeting. You can go all out and make a whole excel spreadsheet, or just jot down how much and when your bills are, and then figure out what spare cash you have after that and what it’ll go towards. One method that a lot of students use is the 50/30/20 plan. 50% of your income (be it student loan, wages, money from your parents) goes towards bills and necessary payments, 30% goes into your pocket for whatever you want to do, and 20% goes into a savings pot for a rainy day! Read our guide for more student budgeting tips as one of the critical life skills you need for university.

Now you know the life skills you need for university, start swatting up with the academic skills to help you through.