Starting university: a guide for students

White curve
Joining clubs and societies

Clubs and societies offer great chances to do and try new things. Making the most of these opportunities is part of the rich university experience.

It’s all too easy to sign up to lots of clubs, only to realise that academic demands and schedules won’t allow the commitment that is necessary. Think carefully about what you really want to do and try not to over-commit: you can always join later in the term once you have a better understanding of your free time.

There are many opportunities to socialise at university. Some of these will involve alcohol but don’t feel under pressure to drink if you don’t want to. Increasingly, universities are catering for people who don’t drink and providing alternatives.

In general, students tend to fall into one of two categories:

Optimist or worrier diagram

The Optimist

This is the chance for you to try many new things and meet new people. You can’t wait to go to freshers week, attend all the parties, see all the live music that you can and sign up for every sports team and society possible.

While it’s great to experience all that uni has to offer, you don’t have to do it all in the first week. Pace yourself for the long run. Be realistic about your time and finances.

University sports can be highly competitive, which you may enjoy - yet you don’t have to be first in everything and can just join to have fun. Sport is great for your wellbeing and for making friends.

Hands On Hands

The Worrier

You’re unsure about which societies are right. You are terrified of making a fool of yourself, and worried that you will feel like an outsider.

Before you go to the freshers fair, it can be helpful to look online at the societies on offer and choose those that appeal to you. Advance planning will combat feelings of being overwhelmed by the choice, crowds and noise. Think about what you want to ask before you go.

Sport is a great way to stay fit and meet others - physical activity also improves mental health. Don’t be put off by the competitive nature of sports; try to have fun and just enjoy it.

Remember that everyone starts off not knowing anyone; you’re not alone in these feelings. It’s ok to be quiet and an introvert; you can overcome shyness by trying new groups that interest you and making friends around shared interests. This could lead to many happy memories in the future.

Black African Young Man



Starting University

A resource for young people about to start university

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Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

A simple, resource to help young people keep themselves well and get them through difficult times

View resource

Warning signs poster

A bold A3 poster showing the warning signs that tell you when someone may be depressed. This poster could save a life.

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