Preparing for university can be an exciting and challenging time. It marks the beginning of a new chapter, which involves moving away from home, meeting new people, and taking care of yourself. Not to mention attending lectures, writing assignments, taking exams and working your way towards an exciting career. There’s a lot going on, and going to university is a huge milestone. That’s why knowing how to prepare for university can help put you at ease. Read on to find practical steps to get uni-ready easily.

How to prepare for university emotionally

Preparing for university is not just about academic and social readiness; emotional preparation is also critical. Leaving home and transitioning to a new environment can feel overwhelming for many new students, so it’s useful to develop emotional resilience to cope with the challenges that may arise. Here are some tips on how to prepare for university emotionally:

1. Acknowledge your feelings

prepare for uni emotionally

Like with every big life change, you’ll most likely experience a range of emotions as you prepare for university. This might be excitement, fear, anxiety or any other emotion. It’s good to recognise how you feel, and remember that it’s normal to go through them. If you find that you need any help, don’t ignore your feelings but acknowledge them instead. There’s a wide range of support available from family, friends, counsellors, universities, organisations and more.

2. Stay positive

Focus on the positive aspects of the university experience, such as the opportunity to meet new people, gain new knowledge and skills, and pursue your passions. It’s a time in your life that is likely to be fun and rewarding, as well as opening the doors to the career path you dream of!

3. Develop coping strategies

journalling can help prepare for uni

University is mostly an enjoyable experience, with new opportunities constantly arising. However, a lot of students also experience more challenging moments, whether that’s related to workload, making friends or something else. That’s why having effective coping strategies in place than can help you manage stressful or difficult situations is a great tool to prepare for university. This can include activities such as exercise, meditation, or journaling. If you need more tips, check out our article on how to look after your mental health as a student.

4. Connect with others

When thinking how to prepare for university, you might think about the social aspect. Whether you’re eager to meet new people or nervous, connecting with students who are also preparing for university may make you feel more at ease. Join social media groups, attend orientation events, or reach out to classmates to build a support system.

Preparing for university emotionally requires time, patience, and self-reflection. By taking the necessary steps to prepare yourself emotionally, you can better manage the challenges that may arise, and enjoy a successful university experience.

It’s also worth reading students stories, and finding out what life’s really like as a student beforehand.

Practical ways to prepare for university

Once you’ve taken care of yourself emotionally, it’s time to get practical. These tips on how to prepare for university can help get you organised and ready for the big step.

1. Research universities and degree programs

research different universities
Source: The University of Warwick

Research different universities and degree programs that interest you. Consider wider factors beyond the university itself such as location, size, reputation, course offerings, and campus culture. Our dedicated Choose a Uni section with a range of resources to help you decide. This will help you make an informed decision when it comes to applying to universities.

2. Understand the application process

Familiarise yourself with the application process for the universities you’re interested in. Make a checklist of application requirements, deadlines, and supporting documents needed, such as transcripts and test scores. UCAS provide a wealth of information on how to apply to university, and act as the main portal for applications. You can also read more on how to apply to university without A Levels, and how to go through clearing.

3. Develop study skills

develop study skills

Give your study skills a boost, such as note-taking, time management, and effective reading strategies. These skills will help you manage your workload and succeed academically in university. You can download a range of apps that can help with these, or practice them as you prepare for university in the final months of college.

4. Manage your finances

Knowing how to prepare financially for university is essential. Create a budget and look for scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options that can help offset the cost of tuition and living expenses. Unfortunately going to university means you have to keep on top of things, and maybe not buy everything as you don’t just get endless amounts of money to spend. It can be tempting to blow all your maintenance loan as soon as it hits your account but this would be a silly thing to do. Budgeting from the beginning will allow your loan to stretch the full term until your next loan hits your account.

5. Look for accommodation

find student accommodation

A huge part of preparing for university is finding a place to live. Unifresher have a range of student accommodation guides for each city, which help you explore the best areas to live, the type of accommodation for you and how to find it.

6. Stock up on essential goods

how to prepare for university

An IKEA shop almost seems like tradition for new university students. Nothing quite beats the excitement of your first IKEA shop, getting everything you’ll need and even things you don’t need. But there will also be things that are essential that surprise you, like how important cosy slippers are, to bum bags and noise-cancelling headphones – so be aware of those things too.

7. Pack everything

It can feel overwhelming packing up for a whole new life at university, and knowing how to prepare for it is key here. Thankfully, we’ve created a thorough ‘what to pack for uni checklist‘, so you’re in good hands.

8. Make sure to plan for fresher’s week

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This will undoubtedly be the most daunting but also the best week of your life so far. It’s when you’re getting your footing in a new city and making heaps of new friends. Make sure to know ahead of time what events are on so as not to miss out! You will usually have fresher reps guiding you all the way but if not check out uni groups on social where this information is usually readily available. If you can find out themes for nights ahead of freshers then you’ll be able to plan your fancy dress.

9. Join a group chat

Taking this advise will stop you from showing up to your new place not knowing anyone. To skip those awkward introductions join social pages. Most universities will have groups for the accommodation you’re staying in, as well as course groups and university freshers groups. Here you’ll be able to get contact details of specific people staying in your dorm or flat and make a private Whatsapp chat. This way you’re not turning up to university having had no contact with anyone you’re going to live with!

10. Find books second hand

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There is absolutely no need to waste your money on brand new books when you can get them in just as good condition second hand. Textbooks are expensive at the best of times! You can get second hand books on Amazon or Ebay or just search for specialist websites.

11. Talk to someone who’s done it!

The best way to get ready for university is to find someone who has already done it. This might be a older sibling or friend of a friend who is in second or third year. They will be able to give you the right advise and prepare you for your first year at university.

12. It’s time to learn to cook

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Going to university means your parents aren’t there anymore to cook you your favourite meals or make sure your still eating a balanced diet. As much as we believe we can live off takeaways at university, there will become a time when your bank balance and your diet just won’t allow it. This is when you’ll wish you’d learnt the basics to cooking before you ventured to university.

13. Get your CV out

Many people find that after not budgeting their loan runs out pretty quickly. This is when it is handy to have your CV at the ready. Many people find part-time jobs whilst studying or you can find employment during the summer time. Check out our guide here for student jobs – tips to finding work at university  and surprising side hustles for students and 40 start-up ideas for students.

By following these practical tips, you’ll know how to prepare yourself for a successful university experience. Remember that university is a time for growth and self-discovery, and with the right preparation, you can make the most of this opportunity.

Last Updated on March 19, 2024