How to Prepare for Going to University

Starting university is an exciting and transformative time in a student’s life. It heralds the onset of a new chapter filled with opportunities for personal growth, academic exploration, and memorable experiences.

However, transitioning from high school to university can also be overwhelming, especially for first-year students. Carefully planning for university life is essential for a seamless adjustment. This article offers a comprehensive guide on preparing for university so you can settle into your university journey.

A young student moving into student accommodation
Leaving home and moving to student accommodation is a big step.

Research and choose the right university

While all accredited universities grant degrees and provide similar student support services, the type of institution you select can determine the financial aspects of your education, the range of academic programs available to you, and the quality of your university journey. Consider programme offerings, facilities, location, culture, and student support services.

Each university has its academic requirements and prerequisites for various programmes. Familiarise yourself with these requirements to ensure you meet the criteria for your desired programme of study. Understanding the academic expectations will help you plan your course schedule and make informed decisions regarding your academic journey.

Stanford University campus in California, United States
One of the first steps about becoming a university student is figuring out which university you’d like to attend. This photo shows the campus of Stanford University in California, one of the best universities in the world.

Plan your finances

Planning your finances for university is essential for several reasons. Firstly, university education often comes with significant costs, including tuition fees, accommodation expenses, textbooks, and living costs. By creating a detailed financial plan, you can estimate these expenses and develop strategies to manage them effectively.

Additionally, planning your finances allows you to explore scholarship and bursary opportunities. Many universities, especially in countries such as the United States, offer financial aid programs, grants, and scholarships based on academic performance, extracurricular activities, or financial need. By researching and applying for these opportunities, you can potentially reduce the financial burden of your education.

A student putting money in a jar
Planning your finances is an important part of being a student.

Arrange accommodation

Finding suitable student accommodation is a critical aspect of university preparation. Transitioning from high school to university often involves moving to a new city or town. Figure out whether you want to live on-campus in residence halls or seek off-campus housing options such as shared apartments, rental houses or PBSAs (purpose-built student accommodations).

Research available accommodation options and consider factors like proximity to campus, amenities, cost, and roommates. Start the application process early to secure your preferred housing choice.

A group of students in a student accommodation bedroom
Your new student accommodation will be a great place to make new friends.

Decide what you will pack

Figuring out what to take to university is crucial in your preparation process. You should start by asking, “What do I need for university?”. After you’ve figured that out, gather information about the amenities provided in your accommodation to avoid unnecessary purchases.

As you will probably bring some valuable items like a laptop, tablet, or other electronic gadgets, it’s wise to explore insurance options. Note that some student accommodation providers offer free contents insurance as part of your rent.

While focusing on larger items, it’s easy to overlook smaller necessities. Don’t forget you’ll also need essentials such as stationery, medicines, and cleaning products. Starting a university checklist will prevent you from running out of these essential supplies. Remember that these things are typically easily available to buy near your new home, so especially if you are moving a long distance, don’t overfill your suitcases with these items.

A packed suitcase
Making a packing list is important. You’ll want to bring everything you need, but try not to overpack.

Explore the campus and the city

Finding the time to familiarise yourself with the university campus and surrounding area will ease your transition. Explore the campus layout, and locate key buildings such as lecture halls, libraries, student centres, and administrative offices. Identify essential facilities like health services, sports facilities, and student support services.

If possible, take the time to explore your university town or city and become acquainted with your new surroundings. After you have relocated, use your free time before the start of the term to locate amenities such as the nearest train station, local shops, and restaurants.

It also presents an excellent opportunity to bond with your housemates since they will also need to familiarise themselves with these locations. Remember that it’s a new situation for everyone else too, and everyone is looking to make new friends.

A young woman exploring a city with a map
Exploring your new home city can be one of the most exciting parts of starting university.

Attend orientation events and establish a support network

Orientation events are meant to help new students acclimate to university life. These programs provide essential information about academic expectations, campus resources, student organisations, and social activities. Prioritise attending orientation sessions to meet fellow students, learn about university policies, and receive guidance from faculty and staff members.

Orientation is also an excellent opportunity to build your social and support networks. This support network will prove vital during your university stay. Attend social events and engage in conversations to form meaningful friendships. Establish relationships with professors, academic advisors, and university staff who can offer guidance and support during your academic career.

A group of students attending university orientation
Orientation events can be a great help for first-year students.

Develop time management and study skills

Effective time management and study skills are crucial for success in university. Transitioning from high school to university requires adapting to a new learning environment. Create a study schedule that balances academic commitments, social activities, and personal time.

Learn to prioritise tasks, set realistic goals, and break down larger projects into manageable steps. Explore different study techniques and find the methods that work best for you.

A yellow post-it note with the words 'deadline today'
Effective time management is an important part of being a university student.

Take care of your well-being

University life can be demanding, both academically and personally. Preparing for the university experience involves mental preparation for university and taking care of your well-being. It’s essential to prioritise self-care and maintain a healthy balance. 

Practise good physical and mental health habits by eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and seeking support if needed. Familiarise yourself with campus health services and counselling centres where professionals can assist with any concerns or challenges you may face.

A young female university student slumped over a large pile of books
Being a university student can sometimes feel overwhelming. Make sure you take care of your mental health and speak to a professional if necessary.

Embrace the university experience

Embrace the university experience with an open mind and a willingness to explore. Participate in campus activities, join clubs or sports teams, and attend events that align with your interests. The university is not only about getting your degree but also about personal growth, self-discovery, and creating lifelong memories.

You can also foster a smooth transition into university by choosing the perfect living environment. offers a wide selection of contemporary and comfortable student accommodation choices in numerous cities worldwide. When searching for a place to reside during your university years, be sure to explore the options available on our platform.