A guide for students
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:
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
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
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
Managing your finances, shopping, meal planning and cooking is either hugely dull or really exciting. Either way, welcome to adulting!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Download the whole Starting University guide
Low mood poster
Poster created in partnership with Bank Workers Charity highlighting common causes of low mood, how to help yourself feel better and information on where to get more help.View resource
Making the move to university: care leavers
Read how to look after your mental health if you are starting university after being in care.View resource
Making the move to university: international students
Moving to university is especially tough for those who are coming from another country. Don't forget to make sure you prioritise your mental health, and read how to do so here.View resource
Making the move to university: LGBTQ+ students
Read our resource on how you can best take care of your mental health when making the transition to university if you are part of the LGBTQ+ community.View resource
Making the move to university: not fitting in
Read our guide on how to protect your wellbeing if you are starting university and feel like you may not fit in in any way.View resource
Making the move to university: students with adverse childhood experiences
Resource for those starting university who have had adverse childhood experiences such as trauma or abuse.View resource
Making the move to university: young carers
Read how to access support and prioritise your mental health while transitioning to university as a young carer.View resource
This guide offers tips and guidance on how to get the best out of your time at university and maintain good mental health.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.View resource
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