36 mistakes every fresher will make
It’s inevitable. As you transition from the comforts of living at home to single-handedly facing the big bad world, you will make your fair share of blunders.
Whether it’s deciding that downing one last shot really is a good idea (it’s not) or opting to throw your whites in with your colours (pink boxers anyone?), there are some gaffs that almost everyone trips up on. Especially during your early days at uni.
We’ve had a good rummage and cleaned out every skeleton in our rather full closet of rookie errors. All 36 of them, to be exact.
And now it’s time to share them with you, in the futile hope that you won’t make the same mistakes as we did!
Forgetting the essentials
Packing everything you need to survive for an entire year into a suitcase can be a daunting task, so it’s inevitable that some things will be forgotten.
Yet there are some items – like your ID and a favourite tea mug – that you really need to remember to take.
If that’s already got you worried, take a look at our what to take to uni checklist – we’ve got you sorted!
Bringing pointless things you don’t need
By the same token, don’t pack every single thing you own into the back of your parents’ car, just in case you might possibly use that spare TV remote at some point…even though you don’t have a telly.
Not only will it clog up space in your student box room, there’s also the chance it will make you forget something that’s actually important.
Trust us – if you’re an English student, you really won’t be needing your secondary school geometry kit. Honest.
Not getting camera-happy
No, let’s actually put the selfies to one side for a min. We’re talking about papping your accommodation when you move in. Whether you’re heading to university halls or private accommodation, it’s important to check over your room for any faults or damage.
While it’s tempting to ditch the admin work till later, failing to document problems that are already evident in the property could leave you with a heavily depleted deposit when you move out.
So take a good hour soon after you arrive to go through your inventory and note down any faults – however small – and take picture or video evidence!Check out our guide to ensuring you get your student housing deposit back in full – don’t miss a trick!
Worrying about next year’s housing
The majority of universities in the UK only offer accommodation for the first year. Don’t panic though! You will not be homeless next year, and you’ll probably be sick of the 3am fire alarms by then anyway.
The first step is to carefully decide who you want to live with (for at least one whole year). It’s easy to make friends in your first term but for your future sanity, take some time to work out who your long-term friends or housemates could be.
Hiding in your room
When you first move into a new abode, and there’s all these strange people wandering around, it can be tempting to drag your boxes into your room, bolt the door and never see the light of day.
But the fact is, you’re going to need to make friends and you need to live with these people for an entire year. Moving in is also the ideal time to bond over boxes, ironing boards and kettles too.
So prop open that door, turn on the Bob Marley and offer them a beer. Or a brew – just try to be a bit social.
Upsetting the neighbours
It’s going to happen at some point. In the student haze of late-night partying and stumbling home at 4am, it’s all too easy to forget there are other humans living around you.
We all know what a screaming drunkard sounds like, and often you’ll be the one facing it whilst burning the midnight oil to finish an essay for the following morning deadline.
So don’t make the mistake of upsetting the neighbours, it will come back to bite you!
Throwing away your moving boxes
Aside from being a great excuse to get another picture of a cat on this list, please don’t throw all those boxes out!
Chances are you’ll have to move again next year and if you’ve thrown all your boxes out then what are you going to put all your things in?
Sadly storage companies don’t really approve of massive piles of stuff.
Attending every single fresher’s event
Freshers week is billed as one of the most exciting, memorable weeks of your life. And it probably is. So understandably, it’s tempting to want go to every single event on offer.
Yet aside from leaving you cashless for the rest of the term and with a serious case of the freshers flu, dragging yourself to every party going will not only take the fun out of the events you do want to go to, but is also just plain unnecessary.
We pinky-promise you’ll still make friends even if you do miss the odd event, and you’ll feel so much better for it. Put that FOMO to bed.
Ignoring the non-drinking events
While it would be a complete lie to try and tell you that freshers week has nothing to do with alcohol, it’s fair to say that it’s far from the be and end all of organised activities.
Universities host a whole range of events to help welcome you to your new home, from local sightseeing and town tours to supermarket trips and film marathons.
Not only are they often really useful for discovering your new surroundings, it’s also a great way of making friends you’ll actually remember the morning after!
Signing up to every single society
Admittedly, if they have an underwater hockey society at your university you should totally check it out, but while university is all about trying something new, you defo shouldn’t sign up for everything going.
Scribbling your name down at every stall at your freshers fair can end up pretty costly in joining fees, particularly when you decide it’s not really for you after one session. You’ll also find yourself with more society newsletters in your inbox than you ever knew existed.
Think about the fantastic options that interest you, then pick a select few you think you’d actually be committed to attending. There’s a much greater chance you’ll actually see them through.
Thinking you have to hang out with the first person you meet, forever
You’ve probably had everyone telling you that you’ll meet your friends for life at university. As a result of this sort of chat, many freshers find themselves in a wild panic after apparently having not discovered these special people just a few days in. First of all, calm down!
Please don’t believe there’s a need to stay attached to the first friendly person you meet forever more.
Though many great friendships are made in the first few weeks, many, many more are made throughout the year and there will be plenty of opportunities to meet your future soul-mates.
Ditching your folks at the door
The desire to appear cool in front of potential mates and love interests might be huge, but don’t forget who drove you halfway across the country and changed your nappies all those years ago!
Even if they’re holding their cards close to their chest, the chances are they’re feeling pretty emotional (happy or sad) that you’re finally flying the nest, so be kind.
Perhaps you can bribe your parents into a nice meal out before they leave – besides, it’ll probably be the last decent thing you eat all week. This will give you a chance to say a proper goodbye and if you can muster it, a quick thank you. These little gestures will make you feel better and reduce any homesickness.
Leaving everything until the night before
So why is it that the minute even the most conscientious students get to university, all sense of planning goes out the window?
Contrary to popular belief, the best time to finish that essay is not 3am the morning it’s due. Somewhat unsurprisingly we can reveal that a little forward planning can help improve your grades and decrease your stress levels.
It will also give you an amazing sense of smugness as you head off to bed while your flatmates are just about to get cracking.
Not backing up your work
You’ve heard it millions of times before from teachers, unfortunate friends and your pet goldfish – backing up your work at university level is really, really important!
As we’ve already mentioned, students have a bad habit of leaving things until the very last minute and your computer crashing at the wrong moment can turn a stressful situation into a truly horrendous one.
Racking up massive library fines
Yes, books are undoubtedly good. They are an essential tool in defeating your essays and assignments, and you should take full advantage of them. Just make sure to always return them on time.
Whilst your local library probably lets you off with a slap on the wrist, the situation is less forgiving at uni. Late fees can quickly mount up into the tens and hundreds, and could even end up costing you your degree which definitely isn’t worth putting off the walk to return them!
Leaving your referencing until the end
It’s probably fair to say that referencing is everyone’s least favourite part of writing an essay, but trust us on this one – write your reference list as you go along.
No one, and we mean no one, wants to be awake at 4am on deadline day wondering where the hell you found that obscure quote on alcohol drinking in the thirteenth century from.
Alternatively, if you have a fairly recent version of Microsoft Word to write your essays on, learn how to use the automatic referencing system – the added bonus with this is that it will save you an insane amount of time by putting together your bibliography for you!
Spending more time on colours than notes
Yea, we know, colour coding your notes and similar such “incentives” can seem like a really productive and engaging way to spend your time.
But we all know, deep deep down, there comes a point where you’re lying to yourself and your notes and you just need to put the highlighters down and get on with some actual work.
We’ve got a guide to better note taking to help you with this one too… We said put that highlighter down!
Sleeping through your lectures
We all love sleep, but the harsh reality is that you came to uni to learn, not get a cheeky nap, so make it worth you time (and money!).
If you haven’t quite perfected your morning after survival routine yet, then save your sanity and only go out on nights when you can lie in guilt free.
Putting your colours in with your whites
Yes, it does sound like something your mum would say, but unless you want your designer clothes to suddenly undergo a traumatic makeover, then don’t skimp on the washing skills.
Always divide your washing into coloured and white washes at the very least and take care to note the recommending washing temperatures. And stick to them.
Setting off the fire alarm at 3am
At some point in the term you’re going to become everyone’s least favourite person as you attempt to cook something in the early hours of the morning.
So, save yourself from hours of abuse now, and if you’re the kind of person that gets the munchies after you’ve been out, stock up on some fodder in advance – preferably something that doesn’t require contact with an oven.
Not signing up to the doctor’s surgery
The first time you’re ill away from home will always be a tough experience, with a notable lack of people to bring you hot water bottles and hold the sick bucket.
Being ill without being signed up to your local doctor’s surgery will make things even worse and much harder to get medical advice when you really need it.
Take five minutes when you arrive to suss out where your nearest GP is and sign up. Many will even have stalls at your freshers fair so you can do it there and then.Did you know you could be intitled to a discount on healthcare and dentistry? Find out if you’re eligible.
Shopping when you’re hungry
It may seem like a money-savvy idea to hold out until the cupboards are bare, but don’t be fooled.
Shopping on an empty stomach will make you much more likely to impulse buy and grab things you don’t need.
Before you hit the shelves make a list of all the things you need and stick to it, regardless of how enticing that bucket of chocolate mousse looks.
If you’re looking to save some serious dollar and effort it also might be worth considering trying out the fabled supermarket own-brand downshift.
Leaving dishes until they’re mouldy
No one actively likes washing up, but trust us, you’ll like the consequences of leaving them even less. The same goes for emptying the bins; it’s not meant to be fun, but it’s definitely necessary.
Make sure to sort out your plan of action with your flatmates nice and early. Decide whether you’re going to just clean up after yourselves, attack the grim collectively as a group when it gets too bad, or simply sort out a rota.
And remember, it’s not a game to see who breaks first!
Locking yourself out
It’s well worth making friends with the security guards or your landlord if you’re the forgetful type, as this common mistake can work out really costly.
Keep your keys glued to your person at all times, as new sets of keys can cost upwards of £60, and many landlords will charge a call out fee even if you just need to be let in.
If you’re known for being a scatter-brain, get a cheap replacement set cut and give them to a friend for emergencies.
Forgetting to check the use-by date on food
It’s true that best before dates can be misleading; you’ll often find your potatoes will be just dandy a few days after the recommended date, for example.
But the same doesn’t work for all food and it’s important to know the difference between best before and use before.
If the product in question is dairy, meat or fish then always make sure to chuck it when they tell you to or you could find yourself pretty ill.
If you don’t think you’ll use it all when you buy it, you may be able to squirrel some away in the freezer for safe storage.
Running out of toilet roll (on the loo)
Some things are just really boring and annoying to have to buy, and toilet roll is one of these. While no one wants to spend money on something you’re flushing away, it is a household essential.
Save yourself from getting caught short by buying in bulk or setting up a rota with your housemates.
Clogging the kitchen sink
Out of sight does not mean out of mind when it comes to kitchen sinks. And yes, we chose that absolutely gross picture on purpose. Even when you want to clean up in rush, there’s no excuse for tipping fat and itty-bitty bits of food down the plughole.
They’ll only return to haunt you later in the week, when you suddenly discover nothing will go down the sink.
While we could suggest bicarbonate of soda, undoing the u-bend or wire coat hangers, it’s probably best you try and avoid this catastrophe altogether.Hate splashing out on expensive cleaning products? Check out this guide to cleaning your house without breaking the bank.
Never ringing home
You might have started your new exciting life at university now, but that doesn’t mean you should forget the people who’re important to you back home.
It’s more than likely that everyone at home is missing you and would really appreciate updates on how you’re doing as well as some reassurance that you haven’t forgotten about them!
To put it crudely, it’s also not really in your interests to annoy the ‘rents too much – you might even have to ask your parents for some money when times get tough.
Pretending you’re not homesick
On the same note, it’s totally okay to feel homesick sometimes, especially when you first move out. It’s a big step to head off to uni, and chances are, everyone else is feeling in the same boat.
If you do find yourself with a touch of the blues, just remember you’re not alone! Taking your mind off the situation is usually the best way to deal with it, so round up some flatmates for some impromptu fun.
We’ve also written a helpful guide on how to deal with homesickness that should be of some comfort.
Not shopping around for the best deal
There’s a whole hoard of companies out there claiming to offer the best deals for students. This applies to pretty much everything in life, from student broadband and electricity to student bank accounts and clothing.
But be sure to always take the time to shop around before committing to anything, and don’t forget to weigh up any extra perks they might be offering against real price differences.
So we know that freshers week is likely to be one of the best weeks of your life, but that doesn’t mean that all the rules should go out of the window!
Fail to budget in freshers week and you could find yourself financially ruined for the whole term, which is the complete opposite of fun-times.
Set yourself a budget for the week and stick to it. Taking out cash rather than debit cards on nights out can help (but take care not to lose it!).
Buying your entire reading list brand new
Being an eager student certainly isn’t a terrible trait to have, but save your enthusiasm for the studying, as opposed to the part where you splurge cash when you really don’t need to.
You’ll often find that university libraries are well stocked with key texts, but if you’re struggling then check out second-hand book stores or hit up university students who are the year above you – we’ve got all the book-buying tips you need right here.
And remember to try and keep them in good nick so you can sell your uni books on when you’re done with them.
Leaving it too late to find a job
You really enjoyed the money you were earning from your part-time job back home, so you might want to start looking for something similar at university.
Don’t be fooled into thinking it will be an easy ride though; every other student with a taste for pay slips will be looking for exactly the same roles you are.
Check out our part-time job search, work out where you’re most likely to succeed and get cracking as soon as possible. Leave it too late and all vacancies will be scooped up no matter how good your t-shirt folding skills are.
If you’re really in need of some fast cash, check out these 40 ways to make money.
Racking up a massive overdraft
Though overdrafts have become a necessity for students these days, that shouldn’t mean throwing all caution to the wind. Banks may be giving you 0% interest now, but when you graduate you will have to start repaying them and there will soon be interest to contend with.
Make sure to budget carefully and take some time to think about how to cut back on any dependence on your overdraft.
Not getting a TV licence
Not shelling out for a TV licence when you need one (you might not) can end up extremely costly and could even land you a session in court and a £1,000 fine.
This is especially the case since it was announced that from September 2016, you’ll even need to pay for a TV licence to watch BBC iPlayer!
The one silver lining here is that students claim back for the months you don’t use. The NUS are also campaigning to exempt students from paying the licence altogether. Fingers crossed on that one!
Bonus: Not reading our free ebook!
Of course there are thousands more mistakes you could (and probably are going to) make as a student. It’s all part of the learning process!
But when it comes to avoiding student finance and general money pitfalls, you can do yourself a huge favour by downloading our ebook: The Essential Guide to Student Finance.
It’s free, so why the hell not?
Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end! You should now be fully equipped to survive freshers week and enjoy your first year of uni while making as few mistakes as possible. Good luck!
Have we missed any important Fresher’s booboos out from the list? Let us know in the comments below!
After more insights? Soak up 23 things grads wish they’d known in their first year.
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