How to survive your first year of uni

It's that time of the year when exams are approaching and, for many people, university is on the horizon. As I had a somewhat unconventional time at uni, I've wanted to write some advice for a little while. Believe me, if I can survive uni, you can too!
Before we start, my university history might be handy. I started university in 2006 (NINE years ago!) and was already a little unstable. Unfortunately, this insecure, anxious little emo kid did not do well being thrown into a completely unfamiliar environment away from my One True Love, so I would go home every weekend (my university was only a 30 minute train ride away). After a couple of months, that One True Love broke up with me and I was thrown into a pit of despair (it sounds melodramatic but it was so real at the time). 

After talking to student services and my head of course, it was agreed that I would take a year out before returning the following September. I moved back in with my wonderful mum, who took me in without really knowing the reasons why I had left (THANK YOU!) and took up full time employment in a nursery.

In September, I returned and had the greatest year of my life! I was single (well, being messed around by a different guy who couldn't decide if he wanted to be with me or not, but normally deciding on the latter) and made some really close friends, so I was perfectly happy staying on campus. 

At the end of the first year, I met Rich and spent all summer with him. When my second year started, I moved into a horrible, cold, illegally-managed as it turned out, student home but quickly moved in with Rich's mum and, the following year, our own flat and commuted the half hour each day. 

As I bang on about all the time, I graduated in 2011 with a first class honours degree and I have never, ever made a decision as right as re-starting my first year.

Now that we understand where my advice is coming from, let's dive right in!

I cannot emphasise this enough! I'm pretty certain I would have been a lot less miserable first time round if I had stayed on campus at the weekends and made friends. This doesn't have to mean going up to everyone and accosting them but perhaps suggest a drink with your housemates on the first night. Chat to people on your course and have a bite to eat with them. You won't get on with everyone you meet, so talk to lots of people and you'll find certain ones stick around. One of the girls I met in my second year is now one of my closest friends in the world.

Perhaps I was a little too organised for my own good, but I had a ringbinder for every different subject and they were always the prettiest ones I could find in Paperchase. Every subject had a different design so I could quickly locate my relevant notes, rather than sifting through piles of paper. When I was reading, I highlighted photocopies (never the actual books!) in different colours depending on which of my arguments they related to, and spent time at the start of my course perfecting my referencing technique. I'm pretty sure I can still do it today (Bedbug, 2015; p8). All these little things saved me a lot of time and made the academic side of uni life much easier to manage.

Oh God, the money. I had no job and no wealthy parents to supplement my income. Student loan and that was it! During my second year, I was placed in catered accommodation and I'm pretty sure it saved my finances. Each week, my catering card was topped up with £33 which was just enough to get me through the week and the money was included in my rent so I never had to worry about running out. Whenever it got low, I could have Marmite on toast for 30p from the canteen. These cards were also available separately to those in self-catered accommodation and I'd strongly recommend looking into it if it's an option on your campus. Trust me, it's a huge worry off your mind!

Then there's the student bank accounts! Trusty bank accounts with their interest-free overdrafts! My overdraft was something tiny but TSB has a super-handy £1500 overdraft, and it's really easy to switch bank accounts in just 7 days. Just remember to use your overdraft wisely, and don't spend it all on skinny jeans like my best friend did! 

Of course, the ultimate thing is to take care of yourself! We all know what uni's like and, in my opinion, if you live an angelic student life, you've wasted the most free times of your like! However! Don't drink so much that you get hospitalised or arrested. Use protection. Play hard but work hard. Most of all, if something isn't working for you, do not be afraid to change things up. Change courses. Suspend your studies. Speak to student services. One of my friends got diagnosed with dyslexia while she was at university- It's never too late to ask for support! If you're concerned about anything, speak up! It might make all the difference to the best three (or four, or five, as it ended up being in my case!) years of your life!


As always, I'm happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have about uni life. Just pop in a comment below or tweet me up!

This post was written in collaboration TSB but, of course, all experiences and words of advice are my own!


  1. Great tips, I wish I had socialized more to be honest. When I entered college I was lucky enough to be accepted in one that is near my house, and I had many friends around my house so I went to college with the mindset "I'm here to learn, I already have friends for life". And while that is still true, I do feel very antisocial at school since I didn't really make an effort to establish connections with other people =/

  2. Well this post does make me feel a bit nostalgic. I finished uni like 3 days ago, haha. Yep, great advice here. I'm totally sharing this with my sister. She's starting uni next year and definitely need some advice.

  3. Great tips Becky! I've just finished my 2nd year of uni! xx

  4. I'm the same as your friend - after years of me doubting myself, thinking I was out of my depth...I went to student services, asked if I could be screened for dyslexia and after a few months and seeing the educational psychologist, I found out I had it. Also, the psychologist was really helpful and told me how it effects me...which actually explains so much, like my memory not always being spectacular and stuff like that.

    I mean, without that, I probably wouldn't have got this MacBook Pro. I wouldn't have got the software to help with mind maps and a program that darkens the screen and allows me to read a line or two at a time (basically a computerised ruler). I wouldn't have started my blog, which in fact helps me to try and practice my writing a little more.

    I do feel that I have enjoyed some of the people I've met, more than the stress of the course and writing! For me, the first year was a doddle compared to this second year which stepped up the stress levels a lot :(

    A Little Twist Of…

  5. These are great tips! I'm starting Uni in September so am always looking out for more advice!

  6. I'm just finishing university and these are definitely great tips.
    I wish I'd socialised a little more in the beginning - both my friends in my flat and my friends from my course weren't really outgoing. I can probably count the times we've gone out in three years on both hands! I'm not into clubbing, but I wish I did have more people to go out with every now and then! The overdraft too - definitely helpful!


I read all comments and appreciate every single one, even if I can't always reply. If you have a question or need a reply, feel free to tweet me @BeckyBedbug- I always reply to tweets!

Blog Design by Get Polished | Copyright Becky Craggs 2017