Heading to university

Follow our 7 useful tips to help you prepare for life at university.

3 minutes

1. Sort out your money

If you haven’t already, contact the Student Awards Agency Scotland to sort out your student loan and your fees. 

2. If you're moving out, get a place to live

Most universities offer accommodation to first years, usually in halls of residence. Moving into halls is a good way to make friends and many have staff available to help.

Your other option is private rented accommodation. If you’re getting a private flat, be careful – read everything before you sign for it and find out about your rights as a tenant.

A few tips which could help:

  • the university accommodation office should be able to help you find a flat, as well as deal with any disputes over deposits and rent​​​​​​​
  • before you sign it, check the inventory and make a note of anything which is broken, damaged or worn
  • take photos of the property so that you can prove what state it was in when you moved in
  • if you're renting for the first time, Young Scot's handy flow chart will help you check off everything you need to settle in
  • the Energy Saving Trust can give you advice on cutting energy bills

3. Find your support network

There’s no bell between lectures at uni. It’s up to you to get in on time, hand in essays and figure out how the library works. But you’re not alone.

As well as an induction week and Fresher’s Fair, universities run study skills units, geared towards helping you get to grips with the academic side of things. You can join in library tours, get help with the IT system and attend introductions to different services.

You can also call or visit your university counselling service if there's a problem or worry you want to talk through. 

4. Overcome being homesick

If you've flown the nest for the first time, it's only natural to feel a twinge of homesickness.

There are some easy ways to tackle this:

  • keep in touch with your family and old friends
  • decorate your room to make it feel more like home 
  • do not be afraid to chat to someone about it 

5. Create a budget

It’s easy to get carried away when you’re budgeting for yourself for the first time. But you do not want to run up a credit card bill or blow through your student loan in the first week. 

Budgeting is not only important for keeping you afloat at uni, it’s also a useful life skill. Learn to sniff out a bargain, make the most of student discounts and figure out how much you actually need per week. 

Young Scot’s money advice helps you think through everything you’ll need to spend money on.

6. Decide if you need a part-time job

Many students have to take on a part-time job. If you’re going to need one, think about it early on.

You can use it as an opportunity to get some experience in the type of work you want to do when you leave. But even if you do not, you’ll still have something to put on your CV when you graduate and a reference.

The university’s career office can help with a list of part-time opportunities or check out getting a job for vacancies throughout Scotland.

7. Some final things to remember

  • Register with a local doctor and dentist.
  • Full-time students are exempt from council tax.
  • As well as your student card, the NUS Totum Card and Young Scot card can often get you discounts.
  • In an emergency, most universities will also offer a discretionary fund of a few hundred pounds for day-to-day living expenses.