34 things to do when starting university
Starting uni is daunting - but follow our list of things to do when you arrive and you'll fast-track settling into your first few weeks.
Amid all the hype surrounding freshers', it's easy to forget that there's actually quite a bit to do when you get to uni (that doesn't involve drinking).
Aside from surviving freshers' week, you'll want to get organised and settled in as quickly as possible. After all, this place will be your home for the next three years (or more!).
So to help you make the most of your university experience, follow our checklist of important things to do when starting uni!
What’s on this page?
Before you go to university
- Open a student bank account - You'll need this to get your Student Finance, not to mention the fact that the 0% overdrafts are a lifeline for many students. Head to our comparison of the best student bank accounts and get the account that's right for you.
- Pack everything you need - But don't bring useless stuff you'll never need (that's one of main fresher mistakes). Use our list of what to take to uni and you won't go far wrong!
- Know where you'll be living - Confirm your uni accommodation and do some research on the surrounding area so you're familiar on arrival. If you're driving, it's also a wise move to scout out the route and parking options.
- Join some Facebook groups - There will almost certainly be groups for freshers at your uni to get to know each other, typically around courses and uni halls. Get involved with a couple of them to help you feel part of the community before you arrive 🙂
Settling into your room
- Check the internet is working - University internet has, let's say, a mixed reputation for reliability and infamous complicated setups. Get connected early doors to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
- Make your room YOUR room - You're going to be here for the next nine months. Hang up some photos (how to get free prints), lay down a rug or crack open a diffuser - whatever it takes to make your new room feel just like your old room, but better.
- Check out the security - Think of the door to your room as the front door of your house. You wouldn't live in a house with a broken lock, so check that your uni room is just as secure! And while you're at it, check out our tips on avoiding being burgled at uni.
- Make your bed - There's nothing worse than sleeping on a used mattress without a sheet, so get your bed sorted out as soon as possible. Plus, it'll make your whole room look a lot more homely and save you having to do it when you rock up at 2am after your first night out with your flatmates.
- Locate the bins - Whether it's excess packaging from the move, or just dozens of empty bottles from your first night in halls, you'll be needing the bins sooner rather than later. Find out where the bins are - both in and outside the flat - to avoid a trash tower emerging in your room.
- Stock up on snacks and cupboard staples - You won't want to spend your freshers' week thinking long and hard about what to cook (spoiler: that soon becomes one of the best ways to save money). Fill your kitchen cupboard with food staples to make some quick and delicious meals throughout the week - and the year!
- Note down your address - This might sound obvious, but given that you might well need to get a taxi back from a night out pretty soon, you should make a note of your address on your phone. Plus, it means you'll have it to hand when your mum asks for your address to send over anything you've forgotten. Speaking of which...
- Figure out what you're missing - To paraphrase Neville Longbottom, how are you supposed to realise what you've forgotten if you couldn't remember it in the first place? In this instance, the answer is simple: with our what to take to uni checklist 🙂
Making friends at university
- Keep your bedroom door open - Everyone (and we mean everyone) in halls is nervous about making friends, so don't feel like you're the only one. Short of going into the kitchen or communal area, the best thing you can do is propping your bedroom door open while you're in there, meaning people can drop in and say hello without the awkwardness of knocking.
- Offer drinks and snacks to your flatmates - They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach - but if you ask us, it's the way to anyone's heart. Grab some beers or chocolates, offer them to your flatmates and you'll have friends for life.
- Start a group chat - Nothing brings people together like a group chat. You can share memes, rip each other to bits, or just let everyone know that you've run out of washing up liquid. Either way, you'll instantly feel closer if you're all in a flat chat together (P.S. our daily deals WhatsApp group is worth joining too!) 😉
- Get the lowdown on the freshers' fair - The freshers' fair is your chance to sign up to any and every society you're interested in, as well as bag some amazing discounts, freebies and free food. Chances are it'll be on in the middle of freshers' week, but find out exactly where and when it is as soon as you can - you won't want to miss it!
- Go to a social event - As daunting as it may seem, the best way to make friends at uni is to get yourself out there and meet as many people as possible. Say yes to any invitations that you get - but only if it's something you like doing. Clubbing isn't for everyone, and that's fine - just push yourself to attend whatever you'd normally go to if you weren't worried about making friends or not knowing anyone.
Essential university admin
- Complete your registration to get Student Finance - Regardless of when you move to uni, you won't get any Student Finance payments until you've completed your university registration. The sooner you're registered, the sooner your student bank account will be sitting pretty.
- Register with your uni's GP - In the unfortunate event that you're struck down with anything other than freshers' flu at uni, you'll need to use your university's health services. The last thing you'll want to do when you're ill is wait to register, so do it early and save yourself the hassle of signing up when you feel like death.
- Print off your lecture schedule - You might not have as many uni lectures as you did classes at school, but that won't stop you forgetting what classes you have, when you have them and where they are. Read our guide to getting cheap printing, print your schedule off and then put it somewhere safe - on your wall, in your wallet, or wherever else!
- Get the all-clear and stay all-clear - While you're registering with a GP, sign up for an STI test and grab some contraception. Both are free when you get them from your doctor, and both are sensible things to do bearing in mind all of the new friends you'll be making at uni...
- Start a budget - Here at Save the Student we're all about saving money, and there was no way that we'd do this list without advising you to start a budget. Don't worry, it doesn't have to be a drag - we've got a guide to budgeting as a student that should make it as easy as pie, and leave you with a little more money to spend on freshers' week. And while you're at it...
- Go to your course inductions - Sure, the induction sessions might not cover anything that you'll need to use in an essay, but that doesn't mean they're not worth attending. Use the induction sessions as an opportunity to suss out your lecturers, ask any burning questions and, perhaps most importantly, be notified of any important changes (like a switch of lecture theatre - that always catches people out!).
- Get contents insurance - You might have contents insurance included as part of your tenancy agreement in halls (check your contracts if you're not sure) - if so, skip to the next point. If not, check out our guide to cheap student contents insurance - you never know when you might need it!
- Buy a bus or rail card - If you think you'll be using public transport even slightly regularly, it's worth your while looking at the cost of a bus or rail card, as it could save you money in the long run. We've got info on student bus passes, and the 16-25 Railcard (which gets you a third off rail travel) too - keep checking our travel deals section for special offers and discounts on travelling.
- Get a TV Licence (or exploit the loophole) - Unless you're only planning to watch TV on one provided by the uni in a communal area, you'll need to establish whether or not you need a TV Licence. Thing is, despite there being a lot of talk that you need a licence just to watch iPlayer, we've found a TV Licence loophole that means you might not have to pay at all.
Explore your local area
- Browse Google Maps and Street View - Ok, you could just go out and explore the local area on foot instead. But if you just want to get a quick feel for the area, or see how safe certain parts of town look, Google is without a doubt the most efficient way.
- Be a tourist for the day - If Google Maps just doesn't cut it for you, how about a walking tour of the area? Or an open top bus tour (if your town has one)? Whatever you go for, spending a day as a tourist and just having a look around is a great way to get your bearings and finding your new favourite bar.
- Check out the local supermarkets - If you do decide to venture out on foot, head to the local supermarkets. Figure out which shops have the best prices and the biggest selection, and keep our supermarket money saving tips in mind, too.
- Scout out the library - The longer you're at uni, the more time you'll spend revising in the library - but that's no reason not to familiarise yourself with it as a fresher. Drop by during your first couple of days to establish where it is, whether it's got the books on your reading list, and whether it's the kind of place where you can work towards getting a first.
- Suss out the uni gym - Trust us when we say that you'll probably never get the chance to have a cheaper gym membership than when you're at uni. So if that's your kind of thing, check it out and consider whether it's worth signing up (although if it's still a bit pricey, we've got a list of cheap ways to stay fit without the gym).
- Find the laundry facilities - Even if you don't know how to use a washing machine, or intend to take your dirty clothes home to your parents every few weeks, it's at least worth finding out where the laundry facilities are for when you're ready to use them and how much they cost to use.
- Look at Foursquare and TripAdvisor - We're guessing that you already had a look at what there was to do in the local area before you chose your uni. Nonetheless, TripAdvisor and Foursquare are great for discovering hidden gems that only the locals know about - and failing that, we've got a list of fun things to do for under £20.
- See what jobs are going - Most students will need to consider paid work to cover living costs. Use our part-time job search to get ahead of the competition in your town.
This is what you SHOULD do, but what about the things you SHOULDN'T do? Check out our list of the mistakes every fresher makes and see how many you can avoid!