Top Tips for Students Starting University

October 24, 2023
5 min read
Cress Warnell

Welcome to the Exciting Journey of University!

Starting university is a major milestone filled with endless possibilities and new experiences - whether you're a fresh-faced first-year student or a returning scholar looking to make the most of your academic journey, we are here to help you navigate this exciting chapter of your life. 

In this guide, we will share invaluable tips and advice on a range of topics specifically tailored to students starting university. From managing your time effectively and finding the perfect study-life balance to making new friends and acing those exams, we have got you covered! So, let's dive in and make the most of this incredible adventure together. 

Adjusting to University Life and Independence

Transitioning from high school to university

Starting university is an exciting and transformative time in a student's life. However, it can also be a significant adjustment from high school. Here are some university tips to help you navigate this transition, for both new and existing students:

One of the first things to remember is that university is very different from high school; the academic expectations and workload are much higher, and you'll have more independence and responsibility for your learning. Be prepared for longer lectures, more self-guided study, and a greater emphasis on critical thinking and independent research. For the first few weeks this can seem a huge challenge, but through perseverance and hard work, you will be surprised at how quickly you adjust to university student life.

Increased academic workload and expectations

It's important to develop effective time management and study skills to cope with the increased workload. To do this effectively you should create a study schedule, break tasks into smaller manageable chunks, and make use of productivity techniques like the Pomodoro Technique. 

Don't hesitate to seek help from professors, teachers or academic advisors if you're struggling to adapt to the demands of university.

Independence and responsibility

University is a time to establish your independence and start taking real responsibility for your actions - this includes managing your own schedule and finances, making important decisions about your academic and personal life, and taking care of your physical and mental well-being. 

Remember that the choices you make now will have a direct impact on your future, so it's vital for you to make wise decisions and prioritise your goals.

Building a support system

Adjusting to university life can be made easier by building a strong support system around you.

Take the initiative to introduce yourself to your classmates, roommates, and peers. Join clubs and organisations that align with your interests, as this is a great way to meet like-minded individuals who can become your support network throughout your university journey. You should also take part in activities (such as freshers fair) and nights out during freshers week alongside fellow students; and remember that everyone is in the same boat and trying to make friends at this time.

Don't hesitate to seek guidance from mentors or seniors who have already experienced university life. They can provide valuable advice and support, whether it's regarding academic choices, managing personal challenges, understanding student finance, or navigating university campus resources.

Utilise campus resources and support services

Make sure to take advantage of the wide range of campus resources and support services available to you. 

As well as physical resources and study spaces, this could include academic tutoring, career counseling, mental health services, and wellness programs. Utilising these resources will help you thrive academically and personally.

Balancing Academics and Social Life

Starting university can be an exciting but simultaneously overwhelming experience. On one hand, university is one big learning process; you have the opportunity to expand your knowledge, explore new subjects, and work towards your academic goals. On the other hand, you also want to make friends, enjoy your time amongst other students, and make the most out of your university experience. 

Being able to balance your academic studies and your social life is key to achieving success in both areas. Here are some tips to help you find the right balance:

Time management skills

  • Prioritising tasks and setting realistic goals: It's important to identify where your priorities lay so you can focus on the most important tasks and set realistic goals for yourself, allocating your time accordingly.
  • Creating a study schedule: Develop a study schedule that works for you, with considerations for course commitments - determine which time of day you are most productive and plan out or schedule your study sessions during those times.
  • Identifying and eliminating time-wasting activities: Be aware of the activities that consume your time without adding value, and then minimise or eliminate those activities to free up more time for academics and socialising.

Building a productive study routine

  • Finding the ideal study environment: Experiment with different study environments to find the one that helps you concentrate and stay focused. This could be a quiet library, a coffee shop, or even a study group.
  • Effective study techniques and strategies: Explore different study techniques and strategies that suit your learning style. This might include summarising notes, creating flashcards, or teaching the material to someone else - even talking about subject content with other university students helps some people learn the information themselves!
  • Seeking help when facing academic challenges: Don't hesitate to seek help from professors, tutors, or classmates when you encounter difficulties; asking for assistance is a sign of strength and shows your commitment to your academic success.

Building Strong Relationships and Networking

When starting university, it's not just about academics and independence; building strong relationships and developing a network of contacts can play a crucial role in your future success. 

Here are some tips to help you navigate the social aspects of university life and network for future opportunities.

Social aspects of university life

  • Making friends and forming a support system: Take the initiative to introduce yourself to new people, join clubs or organisations that interest you, and participate in social events. Building a strong support network will not only enhance your university experience but also provide emotional and academic support.
  • Participating in social activities and campus events: Attend orientation programs, campus parties, sporting events, students union and other activities organised by your university (although you should only attend events that a relevant or appealing to you; don't allow peer pressure to decide which activities you take part in). These events not only foster a sense of belonging but also give you the opportunity to meet new people and make connections.
  • Overcoming loneliness or homesickness: It's common to feel lonely or homesick when starting university, especially if you're away from home; you should stay connected with your family and friends back home through calls and video chats. You can also reach out to your university's support services, such as counseling centers, for guidance and assistance if you feel it would help.

Networking for future opportunities

  • Engaging with professors, alumni and industry professionals: Take advantage of office working hours to connect with your professors; they can offer valuable guidance and may even have relevant industry contacts. You should also think about joining alumni networks or attending alumni events to learn from their experiences and gain insights into potential career paths.
  • Attending career fairs and networking events: Make it a priority to attend career fairs and networking events organised by your university or industry associations, as these events provide the opportunity to meet potential employers, explore internship opportunities, and expand your professional network.
  • Building an online presence through professional platforms: Create and maintain profiles on professional platforms like LinkedIn. Here you should showcase your skills, experiences and achievements to build connections with industry professionals. Engage in relevant discussions and join groups to expand your network further.

Choosing the Right Courses and Majors

Choosing the right courses and majors is a crucial decision for students starting university, as it sets the foundation for your academic journey and potential career path.

  • Exploring different academic disciplines - You should do this by evaluating personal interests and passions, researching potential career paths associated with each major and seeking guidance from academic advisors.
  • Setting realistic goals and expectations - Understanding the requirements and workload of each course/major and then assessing your strengths, weaknesses, and personal goals in relation to these should help you when considering future prospects and the flexibility of your chosen major.

Mental Health and Well-being

Starting university can be a transformative and exciting time in a student's life. However, it can also be accompanied by new challenges and stressors. Prioritising your mental health (rather than purely physical health, as some of us are in the habit of doing) and well-being is crucial for a successful and fulfilling university experience. 

Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy mind and body while navigating the ups and downs of university life:

Recognising and managing stress

  • Stress management techniques and coping strategies: Learning effective ways to manage stress is essential. This could include practicing deep breathing exercises, engaging in physical activity, or incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine.
  • Balancing academic and personal life effectively: Finding a balance between your academic responsibilities and personal life is vital for your mental well-being - you should prioritise self-care and set realistic goals for yourself to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Seeking help when needed: It's important to recognise when you need support and ask for help. Whether it's talking to a trusted friend, family member, or seeking professional assistance, reaching out can make a significant difference in your mental health.

Promoting mental well-being

  • Emphasising the importance of self-reflection and self-care: Take time for self-reflection and to engage in activities or hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation. This could be anything from journaling, creating art, exercising, to simply spending your spare time in nature. Prioritising yourself is essential for maintaining good mental health as you deal with your new responsibilities and workload.
  • Engaging in mindfulness and relaxation techniques: Incorporating mindfulness and relaxation techniques into your daily routine can help reduce stress and enhance your overall well-being. Try practices such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to bring calmness to your mind and body.
  • Encouraging open communication: Remember that you're not alone in your struggles. It's so important to surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family who you can openly communicate with. 

If you're experiencing persistent mental health challenges, don't hesitate to seek professional help from your university's counseling services or a mental health professional. There is no shame in reaching out during this potentially tough, challenging time.

By prioritising your mental health and well-being, you'll be better equipped to navigate the challenges and opportunities that university life presents. Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as studying and achieving academic success. So, embrace self-care, seek support when needed, and make your mental health a top priority throughout your university journey.

Develop Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving Skills

As a university student, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills is crucial for success in both academics and real-life situations, as these skills allow you to approach challenges with a rational and analytical mindset, enabling you to find innovative solutions. 

It is important that you recognise that critical thinking skills will not only benefit you in your studies but also in your future career, because of how highly employers value individuals who can think independently, critically and solve problems effectively.

  • Developing analytical skills -Engaging actively in class discussions, analysing different perspectives, asking thoughtful questions, and completing assignments that require critical analysis will further hone your analytical skills.
  • Applying critical thinking - Start to practice applying critical thinking skills outside the classroom. Aim to evaluate and analyse information from various sources, consider different viewpoints, and make well-informed decisions.
  • Utilising resources to approach and solve complex problems - Make use of university resources such as libraries, lecture buildings, halls of residence, online databases, and academic support centers to gather information and brainstorm potential solutions when faced with complex problems.
  • Collaborating with peers - Work with your peers in group projects and discussions to gain different insights and diverse perspectives. Collaborating with others will help you develop your problem-solving skills by considering various approaches.

Applying problem-solving skills to both academic and personal challenges

Remember that problem-solving skills are not limited to academic challenges. Apply these skills to personal problems as well. Break down the problem, consider alternatives, and evaluate the potential outcomes.


Starting university is an exciting and transformative time in your life. As you navigate through this new chapter, keep in mind the key tips discussed in this article, and allow yourself time to become comfortable in your new surroundings.

Also know that Summer Schools are here to help if you have any questions related to starting your university journey - contact us today for expert advice, assistance or answers!

Embrace the university experience, and make the most of it. This is a unique time in your life where you have the opportunity to grow intellectually, socially, and personally - we encourage you to take risks, step out of your comfort zone, and seize every opportunity that comes your way. 

University is not just about getting a degree; it's about the experiences, friendships, and memories you'll create along the way. Remember to enjoy the journey.

Cress Warnell

Cress is a skilled copywriter who transforms ideas into captivating content. With a passion for words and a keen eye for detail, she crafts compelling copy for Summer Schools, helping students explore their options in education.

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