The Bartlett


10 tips to get ready for university

by Sabelle Adjagboni

Preparing for university can be pretty exciting but daunting, especially if it is your first time away from home or in an entirely new country. However, going to university is a lifetime experience. The following ten tips will help you get ready for your time in university, allowing you to relax and enjoy your summer.

Image of UCL campus

1. Find suitable accommodation 

A lot of first-year students opt for university accommodation. It is a great way to meet new students and make new friends under the protection of the university. Additionally, most university accommodations include bills, which takes away that stress from you. I recommend attending student hall open days if you get the chance. 

However, if you want the challenge of ‘adulting’ with your living arrangement, there are many private accommodations available. You can find these on websites such as Rightmove, Zoopla and Spare Room. In this case, you may have a bit more freedom and control over the type of room you chose and how many roommates you have. If you have friends going to the same university as you or a neighbouring university, it might be a good idea to get a house together. Living in  private accommodation would also be an excellent opportunity to familiarise yourself with the responsibility of paying bills, a challenge that could pay off later on as it could help build your credit score. 

Here are some tips for finding suitable accommodation:

  • Decide on a budget and stick to it
  • Think about your commute, as this may help you choose your location 
  • What makes a place homey is also the people you share it with. Use Facebook groups such as the ‘UCL offer holder group’, the ‘UCL international student group’, the ‘UCL postgraduate group’ etc., to find flatmates and friends. 

Although UCL students live in many parts of London, common locations are in North and East London in Camden, Chalk Farm, Finsbury Park, Stratford and Mile-end.

3 female students in halls

2. Sort out your finances

Yes, I know, some more adulting stuff to do! But this is an essential step to take in preparation for uni life. First, you will need to have a student bank account. A good tip for choosing the right bank is to look out for perks they offer students, such as discounts on Railcard and National Express coach pass. Additionally, look for what overdraft option they offer. However, budget as much as possible to avoid getting yourself in such situations altogether.

If you intend to use some student-finance scheme from the government, make sure you get in touch with the right board as soon as possible to start the process early, as this can be lengthy. Once you have your student ID, always remember to use it in shops and online to take advantage of the available student discounts! This is a great way to save some money. Take a look at this 'Managing your money' webpage for tips on how to make your money go further. 

3. Health check

The past year and a half have no doubt been very challenging. As a result, everyone is a little more health-conscious. Therefore, you must do all the necessary checks and make sure you comply with all the national health regulation policies. Arrange a meeting with your GP before you set off for university to ensure you have a clean bill of health before the academic year begins. Bring with you any necessary medication that you might need. Once in university, aim to exercise, eat healthily and maintain the Covid-19 good hygiene practices to keep you safe and healthy. It is important that you register with a GP while you study at UCL so that you can get medical care if you need it. 

4. What to take

Now, on to some of the exciting bits. Packing for university can be very fun. Try not to get too carried away to avoid overloading yourself. I know the idea of making a home away from home sounds exciting, but you don’t need to pack everything in your room at home to take with you to university. Just pack some essentials and give your uni room the time to build its own identity as you settle there. Some essentials to take with you are:

  • your laptop
  • bedding
  • towels
  • toiletries
  • minimum stationary (you can buy more once you’ve started classes and figured out what else you will need)
  • essential clothes – coats, jeans, jumpers etc. No need to take your whole wardrobe!

In short, be strategic with how you pack; you will be able to buy other necessities on-site once you’ve moved. 

5. Get reading

This may sound a bit like a bore to do during your summer holiday, but it will give you an advantage when uni begins. Most degrees make their reading list available in the summer, so try to read as much of it as possible to start familiarising yourself with what you will learn. A good tip when reading is to be critical. Write down every question that arises as you read. Try to further your research on topics that interest you and write down the names of authors and their publications to start building yourself a bibliography list – this will make your life so much easier when referencing academic essays. 

Once you start uni, my advice is to form or join a reading/study group with your friends. Learning together makes it a lot more fun and you can really learn from each other. 

Group of 4 female students studying and laughing

6. Connect with your university on social media

Start building your social circle by connecting with other new UCL students like you on social media, there are a lot of Facebook groups for specific courses. If you have some questions that you would like to discuss with fellow students, you can connect with Student Ambassadors via the Unibuddy platform

7. Learn to cook

Before heading to university, it would be a good idea to brush up on your cooking skills. You save a lot more money by cooking than having take-out every day. Also, you can control what you eat and what goes into each meal. It is also a great skill to share with your friends at brunches, lunches or dinner!

Image of two female students having an indoor picnic

8. Spend quality time with family and friends

If there is anything the series of pandemic lockdowns this past year has taught us, it is to spend quality time with our loved ones whilst we can. You will be happy to have spent some quality time with your family and friends if you ever start to feel homesick in university – which is completely normal, by the way! You might also want to bring some pictures from home with you to put in your uni room to help you feel connected. 

Two female students laughing

9. Get to know the area

Try to visit UCL before the academic year starts. Walk around and familiarise yourself with the area. Locate your nearest shops, gym and other amenities. If you can't visit campus, try and explore the area on Google maps to give you an idea of distances and what to expect.

Two female students in masks walking in London

10. Participate in Fresher’s week

By now, you are hopefully feeling more confident and buzzing about your new university journey. Fresher’s week is a fantastic opportunity to discover all the activities your university offers, meet new people and join societies and sports team. It is probably the only time you will have to explore everything the university offers without having too many commitments, so definitely take advantage and participate in as much as possible. Most importantly have fun and create long lasting memories throughout your time at university. 

Group of 4 female students in London

About the author

Sabelle is currently studying MSc in Urban Development Planning at the DPU. With a background in architecture and Landscape, she enjoys exploring cities to discover exciting buildings and parks. Sabelle is passionate about issues related to gender equality, housing and gentrification. She is also a lover of arts and music.

Student blogger, Sabelle