Things to know before you go

Making the move into Higher Education is easy if you know what to expect.

Study at HE level is very different to your educational experience so far. So we’ve put together a few hints and tips to help you to adapt to this new way of learning.

  • 1. You will spend the majority of your time in independent study, not in classes.

    Unless you’re undertaking a course such as medicine, or a practice-oriented degree such as nursing, you’ll spend more time in independent study than in class. That means working independently in the library, reading books or researching online.

  • 2. Practice being organised and self-motivated.

    You’ll be responsible for completing and submitting assignements on-time. So it’s good to develop your organisational skills and be self-motivated in order to meet your deadlines.

  • 3. Missing or failing an assignment does not usually mean that you have failed the course.

    Speak to your tutor and/or the student advice service at your university/college if you are concerned about your grades. Most HE providers and courses will understand and give you another opportunity to pass, for example through a re-sit or by doing well in another assignment for the same module.

  • 4. Take advantage of the support that is available

    Universities and colleges have services in place to supplement your academic studies. These include academic advisers, money advisers, counsellors, disability advisers and careers advisers.

  • 5. Use your Students’ Union

    A mix of students, staff and elected officers/presidents, the Students’ Union is run by students, for students. They organise sports clubs, social activities and societies, and provide services such as shops, gyms, possibly bike hire schemes and nurseries.

    You’ll also find student representatives through the Students’ Union. Usually each course has at least one student ‘rep’ who you can speak to if you want to raise any issues around your course. They can speak to the department on your behalf.

    The Students’ Union also offers independent advice on most things from accommodation to academic appeals.

    You can even create your own society if you wish!

  • 6. Tips on making friends

    You may feel that making new friends is a daunting task. However, you’ll find that most people are in the same boat. Most people will be new and experiencing the same feelings. So find out if the college/university you are interested in has a buddy or mentoring scheme through which you can connect with a current student before you start the course.

    You’ll also find that most courses have a Facebook group for new students to help you connect with others online.

    When meeting other people for the first time, we would recommend that you do so in a public space.

  • 7. Know your bank balance

    Working out your budget before you start and knowing how much money you have each week is essential to enabling you to focus on your studies and making the most of your time in HE. (See below for useful links). 

  • 8. Always ask if there is a student discount (in-store and online).

    Many retailers and service providers offer valuable student discounts. Visit the NUS website to find out more.

You’ll find lots more useful information across these websites:

Which? University – Preparing for university

10 things every fresher should know

Student view: Five things I didn’t expect in my first year

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