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Five top tips to ensure students are ready for life at university

17 August 2022

  • Five top tips on how to best prepare for starting at university, including how to deal with the rise in cost of living, go-to recipes for healthy eating and finding out about the city students are about to live in
  • Unite Students, in partnership with UCAS, provides prospective students with access to Leapskills, a free workshop and online game to prepare them for the realities of going away to university

As students collect their exam results this summer, it won’t be long before the celebrations begin to wear off and thoughts turn to that first week living away at university.

If students haven’t already started to prepare, there’s no better time than now to think about getting ready for university.

Research previously carried out by Unite Students, the UK’s largest provider of student accommodation, showed there is a gap between expectations and reality in the skills students need to help make that ‘leap’ to independent living.

Here’s five top tips to help students prepare for the reality of going away to university:

  1. Feeling nervous? Remember everyone is in the same situation
    When we surveyed students about their feelings about moving away from home, 61% told us that they were feeling anxious about this change. If you want to experience some of the scenarios that you might face when moving away from home and living with others, the Leapskills game provides real life scenarios and provides suggested ways to alleviate anxiety. You can probably bank on over half of the people you end up sharing a flat with feeling as nervous as you. Chat to people about how you’re feeling because it’s highly likely someone else will feel the same and when you’re honest it gives them permission to say how they’re feeling too.
  2. Figure out your finances
    When we polled students recently during our presentations at the UCAS Discovery Day events, the one thing that students told us again and again was that they are worried about how they’ll make ends meet during their time at university with the impacts of the increasing cost of living. 

    During a recent study from Unite Students, 73% of parents and 66% of students said they were worried about the escalating cost of living. 

    Figuring out your finances is a key step in getting ready for university life. It’s important to consider how much money you’ll have and what you’ll need to spend it on before you leave. You might want to keep tabs on what you’re spending by simply writing it down in a notebook, or create a spreadsheet that keeps track of everything for you. You can also learn financial tips from our free downloadable Climbing Cost of Living guide

  3. Learn how to master the basics before term starts
    You will thank yourself so much for mastering the basics of looking after yourself before you go away so that you’re not stressing about trying to figure out that stuff on top of all the other new things you’ll encounter when you move out. 

    Learning to cook, clean your flat and wash your clothes are all essential skills. If you’re unsure about these, make sure you chat to someone in the know before you head off or you can find some useful tips from Unite Students like these great recipes from Unite Students. Being prepared will give you that extra boost of confidence when you first arrive.

  4. It pays to do your research
    Where is the nearest supermarket? What’s public transport like in the city? What’s the best place for a night out? Doing a bit of research before you leave will not only get you excited about all the new places and experiences you might encounter when you get there, it will also help you feel empowered with a little local knowledge that will make those first few days in a new place less nerve-wracking.
  5. Plan for the fact that there might be some tricky times ahead
    Whilst university life is undoubtedly going to be full of fun and adventure, there will inevitably be sometimes when things might feel more challenging. It can be worth thinking about how you handle stressful times and to consider what helps you find calm when the going gets tough. Are you someone who burns stress off at the gym? Needs a quiet space when things are really busy? Or loves to share your worries with a mate over a cup of tea? 

    All universities will have wellbeing services that are there for you if you find yourself really struggling. Some people find it reassuring to know how to access these services before they need them. If you don’t end up needing them, you can pretty much bet that someone else you know will, so it makes sense to come prepared with this information to hand before you start.


Karan Khanna, Chief Customer Officer at Unite Students, said:

“While the prospect of heading to university in September is an exciting one, for many it will bring with it understandable anxiety and worry. With results and places secured, now is the perfect time to be thinking about making that leap to living independently at university and what it might involve.

“As the UK’s largest provider of student accommodation, we have an extensive range of resources to help students making that leap from our Leapskills programme through to our cost of living guide.”

For help in getting ready for university, visit