Student Survival Guide For 2021

Are you heading off to university for the first time? From attending classes to making new friends, University can be as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. Time at University is completely unique and it’s important to get as much out of your 3 or 4 years as you can. To do this, you might be looking for some advice for first-year University students. Our guide to student life provides a few good tips before your first day of lectures - with advice on what to buy, how to prepare and what to do when you arrive, our student survival guide has it all.

If you’re looking to travel during your breaks from studying, check out our Guide to Cheap Student Travel to save as much money as you can.


Before you head off to campus from home, think carefully about everything you might need before you go. This includes not only stationery and items for your new bedroom but also kitchen utensils and new electronics. If you forget something, it’s not the end of the world, but it will be another chunk out of your weekly budget. Here are some key items that are often forgotten by students:

  • An extension lead
  • A washing basket
  • Clothes horse/airer
  • Tea towels
  • A doorstop

To save money, Universities often hold Give Your Stuff Away days where you can find all the kitchen appliances, utensils, and anything else you may have forgotten for free! Keep an eye on the social media pages for your Student Union for any of these events.

If you find that all your belongings are cluttering up your halls, check out our Student Storage options. Your personal items will be safe in our secure and climate-controlled storage units.

Acquaint yourself with the University

Another important piece of advice for first-year University students is to get familiar with your university. One part of this is physical: If you can look at the map around your campus or University buildings before you start, this can help you start to find your way around. Of course, it’ll take time before you know your way, but this is a great way to get a head start on this. 

The second part of this tip is not just physical but also administrative. Find out what the University has to offer you outside of your course and social activities. Do they have an employability service? Can you find placement opportunities? Is there an opportunity to learn another language or volunteer? All these things are optional, but they can be hugely beneficial to your university career and more importantly your CV. This can also help you to make the absolute most out of your time at Uni. 


No guide to student life would be complete without talking about money. Budgeting is a key element to your university life, and it might be the first time many people will have had to deal with it. While there is no definitive answer to how much to budget for food, rent or alcohol, it’s important to be able to review your budget at any time. If you have never lived alone before, learning how much a regular food shop costs will take time so make sure to get into good habits rather than punish yourself for overspending on cereal. Good tips are as follows:

  • Make your own packed lunches rather than buying out every day
  • Buy in bulk, not one-off purchases
  • Allow for a little wiggle room - you’re new to this, after all

Not at school anymore

While they are there to teach and to help you, your university lecturers are not there to spoon-feed you as you might be used to at school or college. You will be expected to do the required work yourself and to read around your subjects in your own time. Doing this prior to your first day is never a bad thing and can land you a step ahead of your peers. If you need help or advice from your lecturers or seminar leaders, you have to ask for it. 

In addition, University hours are not as structured as a school day. This is great for people who despise a routine. However, if you need to work from 9 am until 4 pm to be at your most productive, the only one to hold you accountable is you. No parents or teachers are around to tell you off for not doing your homework. Read our Organisation Tips for the Home for going Back to School.

Mental health

As in any new place where you may be out of your comfort zone, your mental health must be a priority. Remember that everyone is different. If you are excited to rush into everything, do it. But if you need time to settle in before venturing out and joining clubs and societies, find your feet first. Try to be as kind to yourself as possible. While your studies are important, looking after yourself is also key, so take time for yourself if you need to. If you see other people going out every night and partying, don’t feel that you have to do the same. Take everything at your own pace. 

Finally, ask for help. Whether you reach out to friends, family, lecturers or a well-being service at the University, there will be someone to listen.

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