Top Tips: How To Survive Your First Year Of University

Leaving home and starting university for the first time is an extremely emotional experience. Whether you're scared, worried or excited, the prospect of living away from home and finding your feet in a different town or city can be daunting. While you may not quite know what to expect at the moment, I can assure you it'll probably be the best time of your life. You will learn so much, not only about your course, you will grow as a person, and you will make incredible friends which you will keep for life. Here are some of my tips on how to survive the many challenges which uni may pose...

Me on 'moving in' day, 2012!

1. Be yourself. I cannot emphasise this enough! This is advice for life, and not just university. You get to know people very quickly, so if you're not yourself from the start, people will soon begin to question why you ever acted a certain way. By being yourself, you know that the friends you make like you for being you. You will feel so much more relaxed and at ease, rather than worrying about keeping up any pretence.

2. Don't try to fit in. This kind of links to the point above. Secondary school, college and sixth form may have been a huge arena for people battling it out to be the coolest, or having to like certain things in order to fit in. At uni, no-one will care if you don't like a certain band, or if you wear clothes which were never considered cool. Honestly, no-one will judge you on this. Just do you and people will appreciate it far more. Besides, from my experience, everyone I've met at uni are different, unique and weird in their own ways! Being cool is a thing of the past, embrace your quirks!

Embrace the weirdness

3. Learn to cook! Even if it's a few basic meals, make sure you learn some recipes just to get you by. Ready meals from your local supermarket are no good at all (I learnt the hard way, hello flab rolls). It sounds really stupid, but learn to cook pasta! I once heard of someone trying to fry dried pasta...just don't do it. Pasta is a student essential- cheap, tasty and fills you up.

4. Make batch meals. Keeping with the cooking theme, making batch meals are the easiest way to ensure you have a food supply and save money. Making a family sized lasagne, bolognese or chilli and freezing anything you don't eat is the most efficient way of cooking at university.

Cook a big Christmas feast with your best friends!

5. Study hard. Basically, you get what you put in. If you want to do the bare minimum, you will graduate with a 3rd. If you work your bum off and really try your best, you could graduate with a 1st. Obviously, it's up to you how much work you do, but there's nothing wrong with aiming high. Plus the feeling when you get a first....

6. Find a good work/play balance. This can be easier said than done, but make sure you don't work yourself into the ground. Keep some time for socialising and having fun! On the flip side, partying is fun, but doing a presentation while still drunk in front of a strict tutor isn't so much fun. Don't let drinking, clubbing and socialising be a detriment to your work.

7. First year does count. Maybe not in the grade sense, but you learn essential time management skills. Many people doss in first year because the grade doesn't count towards your overall degree, and spend the year with a hangover. However, use the year as a test to see how much work you need to do to get the grade you want, how to perfect your writing style or how to structure your essay to get a 2:1. First year is the perfect opportunity to trial and error.

Make homemade cocktails...they're tasty!

8. Go to your lectures and seminars! The attendance slowly drops every week for the whole term, but make sure you keep showing your face. That tutor may be marking an important piece of work in the future, and who knows, although that lecture may be irrelevant to your current essay, it might come in very handy in the future. You're paying a lot of money for these contact hours, you may as well get your money's worth!

9. Be open-minded. You'll see and hear a lot of things at uni, and meet a lot of wacky characters. Be open-minded towards everyone you meet- you will become friends with people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Talk to anyone and everyone as if they're a long-lost friend. Uni is about grabbing those opportunities which you may not have otherwise, so go out and explore the world!

10. Don't take your whole life to university. Pack sensibly. You will end up only needing a third of what you initially take, so save some room and keep some stuff at your parents' house! The people in your flat/house/halls will probably end up becoming great friends anyway, so you end up sharing a lot of stuff. There is such a thing as being over-prepared! If you're under-prepared, there are always people there who will help you're all in it together!

I hope these tips have helped give some insight on how to survive your first year of uni. Most importantly, have fun and don't take it for granted- every weird and wonderful moment and opportunity will be looked back on as a fabulous memory! Oh and make sure you take some flu tablets...Freshers Flu will get you at some point.

Explore the local area!

What advice would you give for first year students?


  1. I'm hoping to go to uni next year and have been getting all worried and worked up about certain aspects, especially as I'm probably one of the least sociable people around, and I loved reading through your advice post! There are some great tips here.

    1. I wouldn't worry at all- the best thing is honestly to be yourself. If you're not sociable or you're quite a quiet person, people will respect you far more for staying true to that :)

  2. Great tips and advice. I am about to go into my second year at uni and I am moving into my uni house in the next couple of weeks. I will remember to pack less and cook in bulk! haha!

    Rachel xx

    1. Tip for second year: don't let letting agents and landlords walk all over you- be savvy! Haha! Hope you have an awesome time :) xx

  3. Great tips & photos! Uni was the time of my life! :)

    Style Sunrise☀


    1. Thanks Karen! Same here, makes me sad that this is my last year...I don't want it to end :( x

  4. Agree with everything you said! Also I found going to all lectures meant tutors were more willing when you needed '5 minutes of their time'!

    1. Definitely! Be kind to tutors and they'll be kind back, haha!

  5. GREAT advuce, I decided to do open uni instead because of personal issues BUT this is so helpful seriously, I wish I had the christmas meal etc! xxx

    1. The Christmas meal was the not disorganised thing ever- surprised we got any food on the table! Xxx


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