30 Things You Need to Know to Survive Your First Year of Uni

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You’ve got your confirmation letter, you’re feeling kinda fresh with your deluxe stationery kit and you’re starting university soon: but do you have what it takes to survive your first year?

Lucky you’ve got us here to help guide you through the most overwhelming, exciting, terrifying and, ultimately, satisfying year of your life. Have a read of our top tips here:

Before starting university

If you're about to start university, make sure you follow our 30 tips on how to survive your first year
Credit: The Telegraph

1. Buy all your books second hand from previous students – because paying £40 for something you’ll only ever read a page of feels like a total injustice.

2. Connect with people on your course on forums like The Student Room.

3. Bring ALL the fancy dress gear you have – especially glow-in-the-dark face paint. You’ll need it. Repeatedly. That’s basically what starting university involves.

4. Master at least three basic recipes – and we don’t just mean ‘cooking a microwave meal.’ You’ll make friends with people who can’t cook to save their lives, and you’ll save a tonne of money by not relying on takeaways.

5. Shop around for a university bank account before starting university. In particular, have a look at what the overdraft limit is like and what freebies they offer.

When you arrive

Who DOESN'T like snacks? Spoiler: no one.

6. If you’re moving into halls, leave your door open so you can meet your flatmates as they arrive. It’s generally easier to have a first encounter of a wave and a smile.

7. Be that person to bring some snacks. Who doesn’t like snacks? Everybody likes snacks. Have some biscuits or some lemonade on standby and everyone will love you for it. Great icebreaker too.

8. Get your internet connected ASAP. Then you can WhatsApp all your mates pictures of your funky new room with its stained mattress and curtains that look like they belong in the ’70s.

9. Bring a few familiar bits that will make your new room feel like home. I’m talking about photos of friends to stick on your wall, sweet-smelling candles that you love and your favourite duvet cover.

10. Don’t kick your parents out the door before you’ve even had a chance to unpack. Chances are you’ll be missing them before the week’s out. Similarly, give them a text or a call once in a while to let them know you’re alive. It’s one of the things you’ll feel most after starting university.

During Fresher’s Week

If you do only one thing before starting university: invest in some glow-in-the-dark paint
Credit: Xplodemag

11. Go out at least once during the week, even if you’re feeling ridiculously homesick. It’ll help take your mind off things, and it will help you settle in quicker.

12. Have some Nurofen in your room. Even if you escape a hangover chances are you’ll be struck down with Fresher’s Flu at some point during the week.

13. Don’t worry if you don’t meet your best mates in the first week. Everybody’s finding their feet and just clinging to whoever’s there. Identify what kind of people you get along with best and identify where they’re likely to hang on: the library? The gym? The canteen? Yeah I’m pretty much encouraging you to be a bit creepy. Go wild.

14. If there’s any introductionary class you should go to, it’s the library session – because there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out how to use the computers/complicated ordering system all by yourself.

15. Meet with your personal tutor. Chances are that they will be the person who writes any references for you for jobs or housing – and it kind of helps them when they know who they’ve got to write about.


Apparently you do have to study at university. Invest in a comfy hoodie. It'll double up as a blanket in the library at 2am. Top tips when starting university.

16. The first year is the best chance you’ll have to try something different. Results don’t (really) count, so go mental when choosing your modules. Fancy learning about the history of KFC? Or how to write erotic fanfiction? Well, now’s your chance.

17. Take advantage of study classes to help you address any issues you might find difficult to grasp, such as managing your time effectively or writing powerful essays that’ll blow your lecturer’s mind.

18. Make at least one friend in each class you go to. That way, if you ever have to miss a class for whatever reason, you’ll have someone to take the notes from. Of course, these things go both ways…

19. Keep notes organised. Oh for the love of God, please keep those pages organised. Otherwise you’ll just want to cry yourself into a depressive stupor come exam week when you have notes spread out all over your drawers.

20. Work towards reading week. Use this break in the term to get your shit organised; don’t just treat it like a week off.


Before starting university it's best to try curbing your spending. It'll come in handy...

21. When you get your student loan through, it might feel like you are rich. You are not. Set up a basic Excel spreadsheet to keep track of your ins and out-goings. When you see that, oh shit, you only have £100 left for food for the next four weeks, it might help you realise that new Topshop bag isn’t that essential.

22. Always use supermarkets’ own brands of food. Not only are they cheaper, they taste exactly the same than stuff that’s £5 more expensive. 

23. Bulk buy your weekly shop. It usually works out a lot cheaper than buying dribs and drabs at pricey convenience stores throughout the week.

24. Get an NUS card to help you make savings on things like student insurance, your food shop and your mobile phone bill.

25. Keep up to date on student discounts at Student Beans.

Everything else

If you're going to defy Coach Carr, at least wear protection. Top tips to utilise before starting university
Credit: Tumblr

26. Don’t sleep with anyone on the first night. Unless you really want to. But it can get messy, especially if it’s with someone you have to live with for the next year.

27. Book a trip to look forward to during your summer off. When you’re in full-time work, you’ll be kicking yourself for not using that time to travel more. Believe me, I know.

28. Be on your guard towards the end of the year – that tends to be when Voldemort strikes.

29. Before starting university, invest in a USB stick. Or, if you’re fancy, an external hard-drive. You don’t want to lose all your uni work if your computer goes completely tits up. Because you can be sure that if it’s going to happen it’ll be the night before an essay’s due in.

30. Others may tell you to not be so petty about people stealing your food – but I say unfriend them on Facebook immediately. There’s nothing worse than waking up to find you have no milk for your tea because someone’s nicked it. Have some laxatives tucked away so you can mix it into your milk and catch your thief red (brown?) handed.


31. Remember which milk carton you put the laxatives in.