Preparing for the First Year of University

Updated: Aug 6

Right about now, thousands of young people exist on the horizon of a new and exciting adventure. Going to university is a significant milestone for many people across the world, and for good reason. However, you shouldn't just wait for your first year, you should prepare for it!

Summer time! Oh the joys. But it's different for you, because what's coming in September is a significant leap forward in your personal journey.

The word 'holiday' tricks us into thinking that it's all about relaxing for a few months, and although there should be times (probably for the majority of the time) for that, it's a great opportunity for an investment, the fruits of which will start paying off within the first term of university.

I certainly remember the feeling well, it was one of excitement but also one of pressure. I felt obligated to get myself ready for what's coming. The thing is, I didn't really know what was coming for sure, it was only guesswork.

How you invest your summer holiday totally depends on where you currently stand, each person will have a different way to approach this but every person should approach it in a way of 'if I prepare now, I will benefit when the time comes'.

The aim of this post is to give awareness of the things you might want to do, pick and choose what works for you and ignore what doesn't. This is one of those moments in life where you know you are moving forward and progressing to a new stage, I like to call this a time when you know when you've 'crossed a bridge'.

Anyhow, much to cover, so let's get on with it, fresher!


Whether you're moving away or not, there's work to be done. If there's one thing I'd like you to get right for yourself, it's where you will reside during your first year...super super important.

The aim here is to find or create the environment that best suits your academic, social, financial...and 'everything else' criteria.

Either way, your challenge is either to find a location that suits this or create one.

Moving away

In the latter half of the summer holidays you may be asked to organise your accommodation. The process starts right after you get your offer, so it could be much sooner than that.

My top advice, if you're moving away, is get the accommodation that is close to your university building (or wherever you want to study, library etc). I can't even begin to describe the benefits of this, but there are so many.

My only counter to this point is if the area close to your suitable building just isn't that nice and you can't see yourself living there. The aim is to do the thing that is right with your heart and benefits different aspects, this one would specifically benefit the academic journey.

Many will say...move to the 'party' location of the campus, because it's your first year. I have mixed feelings on this, I'm quite a fan of having areas for specific purposes and if you live in a party area, you probably wont sleep or study very well there.

I opted for the location close to my university building, if I wanted to study I could do it in my flat or go in to university. If I wanted to sleep then that was no issue because it wasn't too much of a party location. If I wanted to party...I'd go to the party place!

It's important to do your research and look around for a place that fits you, go to the accommodation open days, Google Maps or online forums like The Student Room and chat to other poetical housemates!

Living at home

The same criteria needs to be met, even if you're going to be staying at home. The aim for those moving away is to 'find' a location that's right for them, but for you, you'll be 'creating' the environment.

So let's say that you will be studying out of your room, what you want to do is make your room into the ultimate powerhouse of studying. Equally, you need to make it an easy place to sleep.

Maybe you have access to another room in the house where you could divide these two purposes up, a home office or something!

When you move to a university accommodation, as you're all in the 'same boat' there's usually a common agreement on when to do things etc (sometimes this can go wrong, there's always that 'one' person who likes to shake things up)

When you're at home, those you live with may not understand the new schedule you will have for university, you might need to help them understand that it's very important for you and that you would appreciate it if they could be understanding.

Money Money Money

Student loans, they are pretty great. However, most student loans actually don't cover the full 'cost' of being a student. They are usually directed toward a specific accommodation, study materials or food etc.

In the UK, there has always been an argument over how much student loan someone should get, and it depends upon the earning power of your parents, the more they earn, the more they are expected to provide financial support, rather than the student loan company.

Now I'm going to suggest something that I'm sure someone if your life has mentioned already, a summer job.

Yes I know, you cringe while reading it but bear with me, I'm not referring to a full time job (unless you want to) or even one that is more than one day a week. The point is, first year is expensive because you are experiencing many things for the first time, with other people just like you.

So cash is king here, because it leads to a wider experience and a larger tolerance to explore and learn, exciting stuff.

Also It's first year, so if you want to get involved socially with things, it will be costly. I totally underestimated this in my first year because I forgot to account for people of different cultures who bring across their own holiday celebrations form their country, it's awesome experiencing them but it is yet another cost you have to account for, totally worth it though!

If you can get yourself into a position, where you have a good amount of cash in bank, you will be in a great situation when it comes to this. Then as your degree progresses you should become even better at budgeting.

Equally, you could be really presumptive and organise a weekend job while you're at university, I'd give you some serious kudos for this but only do it if you want to!

Become an improved you

Okay, so I've covered two important things there, but they are very 'heady' and are all about planning for the future (which is the point of this post but I want to get a bit more personal)

The reason why I love the idea of going to university is that you're jumping into something that offers so many opportunities of self improvement.

I mean if you just think of a typical university campus, you have:

  • Lecture theatres, libraries, and labs - for improving academically.

  • Gyms, running tracks, swimming pools - for improving physically and mentally.

  • Bars, food locations, event locations - for improving socially.

  • A melting pot of culture!

  • Everyone else striving to improve themselves

These are just a few things, but the point is that it's an incredible environment for developing in so many ways.

The next thing to consider, who do you want to enter that environment as? I.e., are you happy with your current self and do you feel like you're in the right version of yourself to start this high momentum journey?

What Im talking about of course, is the idea of reinventing yourself, because oh my is this a fantastic time for it or what!

To do this, you can't just adopt a personality all of a sudden and start, because it's more likely not to be genuine if you do that. You have to begin with habits that emulate the type of improved version of yourself that you want to be.

For example, let's say you want to get in shape before you get to university. You need to begin following the habits of someone who's in shape, so maybe you start going to the gym regularly and you start to learn about fitness, nutrition and health (which by the way, benefit you mentally in so many ways, also your ability to study, and socially, it's a grand slam home run self improvement)

The summer time is the perfect time to explore this and then when September comes around, that will be your 'debut' of a new version of yourself. If you've followed the habits throughout the summer time, you'll have something to show by the time you start university and you would have built habits to continue and build upon again on your new journey!

Other way of self improvement are

  • Learning to cook - you can really impress people with this.

  • Changing the way you dress, giving yourself a new style.

  • Become known as a certain type of person, maybe a 'techy person' or something like that.

  • Brush up on your studying techniques, less exciting but you will see SUCH benefits when first year comes.

  • New personal image, change your haircut, do something different about yourself.

  • Practise for a sport, then join a club at university.

  • Launch a side hustle, generate some income before and during university.

  • Learn how to entertain or be funny.

  • Learn flashy skills like juggling, tricks with cards - weird one, but it's a nice thing to show off!

The point is, the summer period is a good time to practise any of the above or something different and by the time your first day comes around, you'll be an improved you and more comfortable around other people.. in a different place - which is crucial!

Talk to Others

Yes, there are others! Thinking the same as you, doing the same as you, about to do the same thing as you, you get the picture.

It's never nice to be the only person doing something, a new perspective is always welcomed. Fortunately for you, you have so many to choose from.

Whether these are people that you know already, or you have to venture online to find them, go find them! These people can offer you momentum changing bites of information that can really help.

A good way of doing this, probably my favourite way, is by going to open days (for either the university or accommodation, or whatever else)

You're likely to bond with these people because they are scoping out places just like you are, it's a really heart-warming experience.

Other than that, I invite you to venture to places like The Student Room and any Facebook groups that exist for your specific course, accommodation or club!

Ultimately, the summer period is only as good as you make it. if you want to spend it partying then that's totally fair, but you want to make sure that you're doing that as a genuine way to let of steam and enjoy yourself rather than a default thing to do because it's 'common'.

You have to do the thing that resonates with your heart, if that's self improvement, then that's your challenge!

It's not always a bad thing to take a step back and work on yourself, even if that means being 'less' social for some time. The benefit of this will be more than worth it when you come out of that phase and continue life as a stronger and improved version of yourself.

Free Resource Templates

If you're applying to university/work or struggling to study, you may benefit from some of the below freebies:

  • CV's/Resumé Templates

  • Personal Statement Templates

  • Cover Letter Templates

  • Study Schedules/Planner Templates

  • More!

Head over to the FREE Resources page and you can download (to word) any of the templates shown there, new ones are released every so often, tailor them to what you need them for and good luck!

They will show you the structure and formatting of each document, along with suggested design ideas and possible wording techniques, take a look!

Anyhow, there's my recommendation for using the summer correctly. Get after it and enjoy university when it comes around, you still have some good time to get busy!

Best wishes

Thanks for reading


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