Off to University? A Guide to First Year Survival

As October draws near and the excitement of thousands of freshers ready to pack their bags and head off to their chosen University intensifies, for most, it will be a step into the unknown and the first time they will experience the independence that comes with moving out of the family home.

Naturally, for some, leaving home for the first time can be a daunting and extremely challenging task. Life as a student is no walk in the park, and the added responsibilities of managing almost everything alone can be overwhelming. Planning ahead and securing accommodations in advance can be immensely helpful.

In fact, some students tend to dread leaving their comfortable homes so much that they meticulously research questions such as “which cities are the safest?”, “which cities offer the best accommodation for students?“, and “which cities are affordable for college students?” before even accepting their college offer letters. They likely do this to ensure a smoother transition into student life. Additionally, by conducting this research early, they can make well-informed decisions regarding where to study, where to reside, and how to adapt to their new environment.

That said, whilst everyone is of course different, it would be fair to say that moving away to University results in a mixture of emotions, ranging from relief at finally being able to get away, excitement at the chance of meeting new people and trepidation at the thought of being totally responsible for yourself.

Arguably, University makes an individual; those who may have been quiet and subdued throughout school have the opportunity to come out of their shells whereas those who were looked up to and followed by the masses in earlier years are back on an even playing field. No matter what your personality, course you are embarking on, or the University you are attending, following this quick and simple guide will ensure you make the most of your first year away from home, enjoy every minute, and perhaps learn a thing or two along the way.

Get Involved

Despite the obvious and understandable nerves as you walk into the campus on day one, make sure you immediately get involved. Every single person there for your course is in the same boat, so interact with them and give off the right impression from the outset.

The early weeks at University are all about getting to know one another, so attend the evenings out during Fresher’s Week, no matter how much you may dread some of the dares you will have to complete, and most importantly, enjoy yourself. You will have undoubtedly worked very hard to get on to your chosen course, so before the real learning starts further down the line, celebrate your achievements in the first week or two and make some new friends to enjoy the experience with.

Be Prepared

As with anything, preparation is the key. Make sure you know where and when your lectures will take place beforehand, have the necessary literature ready for your first day and don’t forget to take the annual trip to the stationery shop to pick up pads of paper and pens for your first few weeks. The final thing is to remember to set your alarm to wake you up in plenty of time as the last thing you want is to be late on your first day.

Watch the Pennies

Whilst you will understandably want to go out and make the most of your time at University, it is important to keep a close eye on your finances at all times. It is a difficult economic climate at present and whilst you will more than likely have a student loan to help pay for your accommodation and amenities, excessive drinking and take away food consumption can soon see any extra money you had in your bank account dwindle away; no matter how cheap your drinks and burger may seem on the night out!

Don’t Forget the Point

Without wishing to sound like an old grump, University offers the opportunity to get a degree that has the potential to set you up in a career for life. Whilst partying is part and parcel of the experience, don’t forget the education side of things. With rising tuition fees, it costs an awful lot of money to attend University so make sure you get the most out of it and despite it only being your first year and thinking you still have two years to get it right, making a good start will set you up well for the remainder of the course and the years when it really does matter!

If you are heading off to University in the coming days or weeks, following this simple guide will hopefully ensure you enjoy every second whilst still being in complete control at all times.

This Guest Post was written by Oliver Kyle on behalf of Pounds to Pocket; providers of unsecured loans to assist in a resolving a difficult financial situation or emergency.


  1. Kirk Pattinson   •  

    I can still remember the days when I first entered University. I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t know a single soul back then. No familiar faces, no friends, I was all alone. I dreaded my roommate. I dreaded my classes. I dreaded everything. But thankfully, it seemed like the heaven’s sent me a guardian angel in the form of a junior. It was awkward at first because I never thought an upperclassman would talk to me. I’m a sophomore now and my good friend is now a senior. I’d like to do a favor for other incoming freshmen and introduce myself to them when school starts. Patrick, the junior’s name told me to do them a favor and become their mentor just like how he was to me. I never knew why he chose me, maybe he saw in my eyes how afraid I was of the new world. But it doesn’t matter, I’m just thankful he was there.

  2. Spencer Rowlins   •  

    Sometimes I tend to forget what I intended to do in university with all the partying I’ve done. Thankfully, my best friend was beside me all the time egging me to stop play time and focus on my studies. Going to university might be overwhelming for some. It’s good to have someone remind you what you came for.

  3. Spencer Anderson   •  

    I have always had a hard time watching my pennies when I was in freshmen year. I don’t know if it was because of too much excitement or I was just a blatant fool that I squandered my first semester allowance in just three days. I was so freaking dumb back then. Looking back at those years make me hilariously laugh. LOL! Good thing I got a part time job and my parents were merciful enough to send me some money to last me through first semester.

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