Starting a new university or college can be daunting for many students, especially if you are travelling abroad or away from home to begin your studies.
This is a step in a whole new direction, so being aware of some points that may help you along the way could be useful. It's beneficial to take a moment when your "to do" list is already lengthy. Branching out into a new field warrants taking some time to plan.
Whether you're enrolling in online, blended or face-to-face study, you'll sure to find these tips handy — even if some seem obvious!
Plan a weekly budget
Before you embark on your new adventure, whether it's close by or far from home, it is important to plan a budget. Make sure to include outgoings that you may not normally include in your expenses. For example, consider social activities, nights out with classmates or roomies, travel, and parking.
It's also important to have your finances in place in terms of payment for your course fees. Scholarships are an excellent way to help with this! Learn more about the range of scholarships that Ulster offers here. Money can make people anxious, so try to ensure you have a realistic plan in place.
Get to know your campus and the area
If you will be enrolling in a university or college that is back to face-to-face study in September, do some research on your campus. Some university campuses are big enough to have their own map, so take note of which buildings your courses are in. If you're travelling via public transport, ensure there is a drop-off point nearby! Most schools will have one or more dedicated stops.
Similarly, if you're travelling in your car, try to see what car parking is available and if you need to pay to park. If you're living on campus and the city or area is new to you, it would be a good idea to be aware of the closest grocery store, bank, pharmacy, and any other important shops or service providers. Not that Amazon won't deliver just about anywhere!
Familiarise yourself with your course's expectations
The course modules for each year of study are usually available via a university's online prospectus. It would be advantageous to look at these prior to your start date to familiarise yourself with the major and minor elements of your chosen course. You can plan ahead and gather the books or resources required for both taught and independent study. Some modules may be theory-heavy, whereas others are practical-based and hands-on; ensure you're aware of this and are starting your first week prepared.
Create a cloud account
If you don't have one already, create a cloud account to back up your school work. Saving assignments, essays or class notes in only a single place is risky. No one wants to sit down and have to re-do all of their hard work, especially if it's a 5,000-word essay! If you've already learned this lesson the hard way, we're sorry to hear it.
Always make sure your saved documents are backed up. If you can't access a cloud account, a USB pen drive is a good second choice. Google Drive, OneDrive and DropBox are our top 3 picks for free online cloud storage. Your university or college amy provide some amount of storage to students, so check with the IT services department if you're not sure.
Whether you're enrolling in online study or on-campus study, it's important for new students to get involved in university organised activities. Getting active will help make settling into your new life as easy and seamless as possible.
Many institutions are hosting virtual events and activities during the Covid-19 lockdown. These are an excellent way to get to know your university's Students' Union, making new friends and finding your feet in a new place. The venue may not be ideal, but you'll still get the chance to connect.
Even if the welcome period is online, eventually things will settle back to normal, so don't delay on making new friends. You'll want to meet up soon! Learn more about the benefits of getting involved in a Students' Union.
The above is just a handful of tips for starting university. Your chosen institution's New Student Support Teams will have an abundance of guides, pre-arrival information and helpful instructions and recommendations to get you ready to begin your new adventure. Don't forget to bring a few photos of your loved ones — although you may be face timing them often to showcase the wonderful time you're having in Northern Ireland!
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