First year students

Practical tips for students – What to do before starting Uni?

Very soon you’ll be taking what is probably the biggest step of your life – YOU ARE GOING TO UNIVERSITY! Moving away from home for the first time can feel a little stressful, but to help you make it less overwhelming, we’ve put together practical tips for students on what you should sort out before you go to university so you can enjoy your first week without a mad rush later.

1. First things first…

Check if there are any other offer conditions that you need to meet ahead of university such as DBS Check (Disclosure and Barring Service) or proof of your qualifications.

2: Prepare yourself financially

Money cat

Money management at university can significantly affect your lifestyle and happiness in the years after graduation, so it’s crucial to keep money in mind while having fun.

If you are receiving a student loan from Student Finance or funding from the university, check if you’ve submitted your application and all the correct supporting evidence. If you need any extra help, you should get in touch with the NTU Finance Office for support and advice. This needs to be sorted before you will be paid your first loan instalment or student grant.

Luckily, there are lots of great resources available to students, including Blackbullion, a platform for student financial wellbeing that provides practical tips for students, planning tools, skills and educational resources, as well as discounts and freebies.

For extra financial support, you should also check out NTU Bursaries and Scholarships for students who are starting their undergraduate or foundation degree at NTU in 2021. To learn more about them, click here.

3. Opening your student bank account

Opening a bank account might be a boring life admin task but it is worth investing your time to do this as it could save you financial headache in the future. Frankly speaking, this is probably the most important thing you should do before you start your first term. There are many reasons why.

  • First of all, you will need a bank account to apply for and receive a Maintenance Loan. This is an extra cash kick if you need help with living costs. You will have to meet eligibility criteria and apply within the specified deadline. You can read more details about Maintenance Loan here.
  • If you’re an international student, managing your finances from your home country account can be very expensive. Currency exchange rates fluctuate, and this can be tricky if you want to keep to your budget. Paying back friends after a night out or meal is more simple from a UK bank account.
  • Accommodation providers prefer payments from a UK bank account.
  • If you are planning to work in the UK, employers will want to pay your wages into a UK bank account.
  • Last but not least, student bank accounts often offer an interest-free overdrafts. This is essentially a free loan until you are a graduate. It means that during your time at university, if necessary, you could use your overdraft without having to pay any interest on it. When you are graduate, banks will convert your account to graduate account and you can keep the privilege of an interest-free overdraft for a short time. This is a good back-up plan when you need some extra money before you get paid your wages or loan. If you are international student that is planning to leave UK after graduation, this may be harder to obtain.

To find out more about how to open your bank account in the UK, check out this website.

4: Sorting out your accommodation

The next step is finding your accommodation for your first year. If you are looking to find accommodation through the University, you can get in touch with out Accommodation Support Team. Bookings are open from Tuesday 10 August 2021.

If you plan not to use university housing, we advise checking medium and long term private rental websites that will allow you to rent a room or house privately through the landlord. Demand and competition to find the perfect accommodation is strong, therefore, the sooner you start looking for a place to live, the better chance you will have in securing a nice room.

Some websites to look for private accommodation are:

5: Deciding what to take

This is all my stuff!

When all your documentation, finances and accommodation are sorted, it’s time to decide what do you really need to take. You might be tempted to pack absolutely everything, but we would advise taking a minimalistic approach.

At least for your first term. The first months will quickly become a bit overwhelming. So, the last thing you need is to have a clutter in your room.

With the bigger items to consider, you can easily forget about the small items such as stationery, documents, electrical, kitchen utensils or bathroom products. To help the process, you can create a list of items you know that you are most likely to forget about.

6. Remembering to take important documents

While you are at university, you will probably come across situations where you are going to need to have your documents on ready. These might include:

  • A form of ID – this is a valid driving licence or passport.
  • Passport photos
  • Student Finance documents
  • Bank debit card
  • Student discount cards (e.g. Railcard, Coach Card, Bus Pass, Tatum discount card)
  • Course and university admission acceptance letter
  • Accommodation contract
  • Scholarship/bursary letters. 

7. Try to stay calm and make most out of uncomfortable situations

We understand that preparing for university is a big deal and it can be stressful. On top of that, you may be worried about making friends, missing home, running out of money and other things. But you must remember one thing – at university, you are never alone. Most of the students arriving at university, are in the same boat as you. Everyone will be going to a new place they’ve never been before and will meet people they’ve never met. And trust us, everyone is just as nervous as you are. If your biggest concern is making new friends, turn up to freshers’ events and meet new students, just like you! It can be a bit of an overwhelming experience . But trust us, this is where you could make the most valuable connections that can last a lifetime!

Sometimes stress and anxiety can be hard to overcome despite your best efforts. If you are having any concerns, try to talk about them with your friends and family. They can advise and reassure you.

For more information on our starter checklist – visit our NTU page here !

What was your experience of starting university like? Do you have any interesting stories or tips to share? We would love to hear from you!

Also, if you are interested in writing an article about this on this blog – GET IN TOUCH!

Blog Administrator. Currently ran by co-author Emilia Denis. Emilia has studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU between years 2017 and 2020.

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