Throughout your GCSEs and A Levels it probably seems like your teachers never stop going on about university. All this talk of grades, UCAS, and personal statements can be tiresome, especially when university seems like such a long way away. But once you've finished your A Levels and the grades come out in August it all happens so fast.
Hopefully you've worked hard enough to get onto your chosen course at your chosen university, but if you didn't there's always the clearing process. Once you find out where you'll be going it all becomes very real; you're leaving home and going it alone for the first time!
Even if you've only got a couple of weeks between finding out which university you'll be going to and the date that you actually have to go and enrol, there is plenty you can do to prepare for this amazing time in your life...
- Decide what to take: Most first year students are placed into university accommodation so start by checking what equipment is provided in halls. Your accommodation should hopefully provide the big things like bedroom furniture, microwave, toaster, and kettle so there's no need to take these with you. You'll probably need your own bedding, crockery, cutlery, and cooking equipment though. Money and time will be in short supply once the semester starts to leave the food processor at home and just make sure you have a few basic pots and pans for now. You might find that your new housemates have things you can share and vice versa.
- Open a student bank account: Unlike a regular current account, a student account will usually offer some perks like a bigger overdraft facility for free. Some banks will also offer incentives such as railcards or discounts on broadband, so do some research and pick the best one for you.
- Sort out your gadgets: Your university's library will have computers that you can use, but a laptop will make things easier for you. If you're using a pay as you go phone you might want to consider switching to a contract that offers free minutes so that you can keep in touch with family and friends back home easily. Once you've decided what you're taking you'll need to get it insured. Contents insurance policies for students start from less than £5 per month so it won't break the bank but it'll give you peace of mind.
- Get a part time job: If you already have a retail or bar job in your hometown you could ask about a transfer to a branch near to university. If you don't already have a job then your students' union is a good starting point. A job isn't necessary but it will certainly make your financial situation easier, and it'll look good on your CV too.
- Learn how to cook: If you've been relying on your parents to feed you up to this point it can be a huge culture shock to suddenly start having to prepare your own meals! Start off basic and learn how to boil pasta, boil an egg, bake a potato, and how to follow cooking instructions and simple recipes.