Monday, 31 August 2009

Fresher’s Guide to Starting University or College

It's the time of year when some students will be thinking of starting University or College. While it's an exciting time, there is a lot to think about. If you are leaving home for the first time, it can be even more daunting. To make it a little less nerve wracking, planning for the big move and the start of the next chapter can make all the difference.

Type of things to think about

Budget! Never has there been a more important time to budget. While it can be tricky getting by on a student income, with careful planning it can be comfortably achieved. Have a think about your expenditure. How often does each expenditure happen? Is it weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, yearly? Your bank statements can help you here - take a look at the last three months and see where your money is going to. This means you won't be tempted to under-estimate or forget essential items you need to pay for.

MindGenius can help you plan. Creating a detailed map should ensure you remember everything you need to. Add a branch called "Budget" and think around this topic. What will be your outgoings? Add additional branches for things like the type of bills you can expect eg gas, electricity and phone. Think about the due date and try to work out a rough estimate of how much you might need to pay each bill.

Add a branch for “flat kitty money.” If you are sharing with other people, this is one way to try and avoid arguments. List the type of things you might need such as essentials like bread, milk, loo roll, washing up liquid etc.

Add another branch for “food”. It's hard to be exact but try and work out a weekly amount. Menu planning for the week can help you save money as you'll buy exactly what you need for each day. Maybe get a copy of a few of mum or dad’s favourite recipes. These could also be added to your map.

Add a branch for “other expenses” and try to list where else you might need to spend money. Remember to include things like magazines and coffees from coffee shops as these all add up very quickly.

Once you’ve had a think about your budget, it’s time to move onto more fun things, like what do you need to take with you to your accommodation? In terms of documents, personal items, clothing, decoration, kitchen, bedroom and any other items such as umbrellas, sewing kits and extra storage boxes. Or, what other type of things do you need to think about such as joining the doctor and dentist or signing up for student discounts through the NUS or Snapfax as well as any rail or bus passes you might need.

You also need to start thinking about the kind of things you will need to help you with your studies such as your reading lists, an academic diary, text books, dictionary, thesaurus and exam result certificates.

After you’ve done all the planning, it’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy your first term at University or College.

Remember those days? Do you have any other tips you can pass onto students starting university or college for the first time about the type of things they should plan for?

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