A guide for students

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Starting university

Moving to university is a huge step; one you may have been anticipating for a long time.

Whether you’re going to the university you planned or finding your way after clearing, there’s a lot to think about.

To get the best out of this exciting experience over the next three or more years, it’s vitally important to look after your physical health and mental health. New experiences can be tiring and you’ll have many - a new home, new town, new friends, new course - these can be fun but also draining, so you need to take care of yourself.

Students tend to fall into one of two categories: the enthusiastic optimist and the anxious worrier. Many of us are somewhere in between. In this guide, we’ll help you to address your concerns, manage high expectations and offer you a realistic outlook to help you stay safe, have a better experience and make the most of what is on offer.

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

Optimist or worrier diagram
Girl walking carrying books
Getting away from home

This may be the first time you’ve been away from home without your family or friends. There will be things you miss about home, and that’s totally normal. Yet being at university can give you the chance to grow and develop - a natural part of life as an adult

 

Getting away from home

Meeting new people

Getting to know different groups of people from your course, accommodation or clubs and societies can be fun and exciting, but it can also be exhausting. Make time for rest and try and create boundaries from the outset

 

Meeting new people

Finding your way around a new place

It takes time to adjust to a new town or city, especially if you’ve lived in the same place all your life. Do your research, ask your new friends to join you, and see if you can find a quiet and peaceful place for when you need it

 

Finding your way around a new place

Living independently

Managing your finances, shopping, meal planning and cooking is either hugely dull or really exciting. Either way, welcome to adulting!

 

Living independently

Living with new people

You’ll learn a lot from the new people you live with - both about yourself and what you can tolerate. Hopefully, you’ll all get on well; if not, remember it’s your home too and take steps to create a safe and comforting environment that you can enjoy

 

Living with new people

Starting a new course

Focusing on just one thing can be a strange transition to make following school. You may need to get used to new ways of materials being presented and different ways of working

 

Starting a new course

Joining clubs and societies

Making the most of the chance to do and try new things is part of the rich university experience. Yet think carefully about what you really want to do and try not to over-commit

 

Joining clubs and societies

Social life and friendships

Discovering new friends is great; you may make friends for life in your first week. Try and meet people from as many different areas as you can, creating plenty of friendship groups to choose from

 

Social life and friendships

Relationships

Relationships at university can be intense. If you come to university already in a relationship, you may struggle to maintain it - or you may be able to flourish and appreciate one another more

 

Relationships

Leaving your problems behind you

Coming to university can give you the chance for a fresh start, but don’t assume you won’t still be affected by past troubles in some way. Help is available to allow you to explore and process any hardships you may have faced

 

Leaving your problems behind you

Self-care: five ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing

Self-care is essential to making the most of your time at university. Practising these five aspects of self-care will stand you in good stead not just for uni, but also for later life

 

Five ways to look after your mental health and wellbeing

Being authentic, making mistakes and missing people

If you’re lucky, you’ll have been encouraged to be yourself from childhood. But for many of us, it takes a long time to learn who we truly are - and to be comfortable making mistakes

 

Being authentic

How and where to seek support

Speaking with others can help you find perspective on your problems, making a real difference. If you’re feeling isolated or struggling to cope at university, ask for help

 

How and where to seek support

COVID-19 and your university experience

Nobody expected this pandemic; it’s turned things upside down for us all. Yet universities are adapting their courses to manage in the new circumstances and give you the best student experience possible, whatever comes next

 

COVID-19 and your university experience

 

 

 

Download the whole Starting University guide

 

View booklet version (PDF)

Resources

Resource

Starting University

A brand new resource for young people about to start university

View resource
Resource

Wellbeing Action Plan (child)

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

View resource
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.

View resource

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