University- managing the transition. 

Starting university can be an exciting new chapter of a young person’s life. It may be your first experience of being away from home, experiencing a new town and city and the opportunity to meet lots of new and often like-minded friends. All of this comes with its own unique and possibly new challenges- cooking, cleaning, managing workload, budgeting. It’s natural to feel nervous and overwhelmed. We’ve put together some tips that may help ease that transition and allow you to enjoy this exciting and unique time of your life.


  1. LISTS, LISTS AND MORE LISTS! There are a lot of things to think about when starting university- especially if you are moving away from home and living independently. It can be helpful to have some checklists to ensure you haven’t missed anything and help you feel in control and organised. It may help to categorise them. For example, you could have a list for things you need to take/buy for your new accommodation. The student room have an exhaustive list of useful things to take What to take to university checklist | The Student Room (although you may not need all of those things). Don’t forget to check out local charity shops, and second-hand selling sites like Facebook Market place, Vinted and Ebay. Often preloved, lightly used items (in some cases never used) can save money over buying new. You may want to make a list of the more practical things you have to do when you move away. Check with your accommodation about things like Wi-Fi and Utility Bills and whether they are included in the price. Check out the local GPs and getting registered there as well as public transport information. If you have any additional needs, speak to your university about support services they can provide. They may have a  disability support service and this can cover physical and mental health.
  1. LOGISTICS. Think about how you are getting to university and with all your things. Will it fit in your parent’s car? Will you have to make multiple trips? If you’re making multiple trips perhaps you could use some of that time to get to know the new town or city, you will be living in. Work out the local transport links and where your university is in relation to your new home or halls of residence, where the town centre is, local taxi firms, supermarkets, pharmacies etc. 

 Maybe you have to make your own way there. In that case could you car share with someone or get the train? If space is an issue could you travel light and buy the bulkier items when you get there. 

  1. BUDGETING. It may not be the most exciting thing to think about but budgeting can be an important part of enjoying your time at university and avoiding some stress. If you have exams or a deadline, you don’t want the additional stress of not feeling like you have enough money to last you the week or month! Budgeting is also a brilliant life skill to learn. There are some good tips on why and how to budget here Student budgeting tips – Calculate your budget ( and here How to budget at university – Save the Student

Ask your university about any grants or loans you may be entitled to.

Once you’ve settled at university and found your feet a little bit, could you look at getting a part time job? This can be a great way of making new friends and having a bit of extra cash- just be mindful of your timetable and commitments to your course when thinking about what hours you could work. 

  1. COOKING. Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet is an essential part of looking after yourself- both physically and mentally. This may be your first experience of cooking for yourself- embrace this new challenge! Invest in some secondhand cook books (especially ones aimed at budgeting students) or do a google search for easy, affordable recipes there are some here on BBC food Student recipes – BBC Food. There are also lots of social media accounts dedicated to eating well on a budget. Eating well doesn’t have to cost a lot of money- think about easy changes you can make. Frozen veg instead of fresh is just as nutritious, much cheaper and keeps for longer. Looking at where you can buy budget own supermarket brands instead of named brands- for example a tin of supermarket brand chopped tomatoes won’t make much difference to a recipe than a more expensive named brand. Look at bulking meals out with things like beans or lentils which can make a healthy and cheaper option to meat. Consider batch cooking and keeping some portions in the freezer for when you’ve had a busy day and sharing the cooking with your housemates. You could take it in turns to cook for each other, which saves time for everyone and can be a lovely social event or way of getting know people. 
  1. MANAGING YOUR TIME. University can feel very different to school, and you will be treated as an adult by your tutors with an expectation that you can manage your time and deadlines. It can be helpful to draw up a schedule or timetable to help you manage your lectures, workload, part time job (if you have one), social life, visits home and responsibilities of living alone such as cleaning and cooking without feeling overwhelmed. Draw up a spreadsheet and split it into days of the week and times of the day. Start off by scheduling in the priorities and non-negotiable’s such as attending lectures, work and assignments/ revision. Then factor in the other things like social events and housework tasks. Look at where you can save time- for example by batch cooking meals so you don’t have to cook on busy days or splitting the housework between house mates. 
  1. GETTING SETTLED. It can take time to adjust to university life so be kind to yourself and give yourself time. You may feel nervous or worried about making new friends but don’t forget that everyone will be in the same position and feeling similar. Many students report that making friends was easier than they thought it would be. The university will be focused in the first few weeks on getting everyone settled in and finding their way. Think about getting involved at fresher’s week and looking at clubs that you can join to meet people or start a new hobby. It’s totally natural that you may feel homesick so be sure to check in with friends and family- technology is your friend here, make the most of video calls, phone calls, emails and messages. Good old-fashioned writing to people with pen and paper can be a lovely way to keep in touch too. 
  1. LOOK AFTER YOURSELF. University life has the reputation for students burning the candle at both ends, attending lectures (or not!) after a night of partying. This doesn’t have to be the case if you don’t feel comfortable with this lifestyle, and you shouldn’t feel pressured into drinking and staying out to the wee hours. It’s worth noting the impact that drinking excessively, not getting enough sleep, poor nutrition and stress can have on your mental health. Regardless of what you choose to do it’s really important that you look after yourself. Try to have evenings off drinking alcohol and when you are drinking alcohol, consider having a glass of water in between alcoholic drinks. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Look at the tips above for cooking and time management to help you eat well and manage stress. Think about your hobbies, interests and taking some time each day to do the things that look after your mental health- going for a walk, listening to music, drawing, baking etc. Try to build these into your day-to-day routine as these small things done consistently can go a long way to protecting and maintaining a healthy mind. 
  1. LOOK AFTER EACH OTHER. Look out for friends or course mates. Be aware that it can take some people a long time to settle into University life and even if the move has gone well, there are lots of other things that can affect our mental health and wellbeing, the stress of the course, breakups, family and friend issues, not looking after ourselves can all impact how we feel. Some things to look out for that may signal you or a friend is finding things difficult are disturbed sleep or eating, consistent low mood, withdrawing from friends or activities that they or you would usually enjoy, a change in appearance (for example losing/ gaining weight or not washing or getting dressed), self-harm, increased risk taking behaviour, not attending classes and lectures. These would usually be over a period of time. Try to keep the lines of communication open and if you are concerned about a friend talk to them. Ask them if things are ok and point out what you’ve noticed that is causing you concern for example “ Are you ok? Just that you usually come out with us and you haven’t the last few times” or “How are you feeling? I know you have a busy time at the moment can I help with anything?”. Try to find out what support is available at the university through your course tutor, student support office or GP and speak to someone if you are concerned about a friend or your own mental health. Remember that you don’t have to ‘fix it’ but you can help and support them get the help and support that they need. has some great resources for students Student mental health support and treatment – Mind

Written by Becky CYP Worker CE Mind