Welcome to the next and perhaps final stage, of your life as a student – “university”. Whether you are a new undergraduate fresh from A-levels or a gap year, a degree student embarking on postgraduate study, or a mature student looking for further qualifications, this is something you won’t forget. Before you start your course though, there’s a lot to think about, and a lot to prepare to help your move to university go smoothly.

Student finance will probably be one issue that’s top of the list, both in terms of paying for your studies, and your day to day living costs. With education funding reforms coming into place in time for the 2012/2013 student intake, it’s important to keep an eye on how these changes will affect you, and the cost of the course you’re hoping to study. The student finance and tuition fee’s pages run through some of the costs of studying, the changes in funding, and how you can finance your studies through grants, bursaries, or loans. There’s also a new scholarship program coming into operation soon, options to gain some work experience (and extra funds) during holiday periods, and details on what will come with your student bank accounts.

Aside from paying the bills, you’ll also want to find some suitable student accommodation either on campus, at the halls of residence, or via private landlords. Find what’s included in any accommodation package you opt for, what additional costs you will have to budget for, and any potential pitfalls to avoid. The early bird can catch the worm here, so if you start your search well in advance, you’ll have the best chance of finding the right accommodation before your course starts.

Once you’re at university, make sure you look after yourself, and make the most of student life too. Sign up with a local doctor and make sure your vaccinations are up to date, make use of well-being services offered by universities if you need them. A healthy, happy student can then make full use of all the extracurricular and social activities on offer, and perhaps get involved with student politics or local student union activities. Every university has different clubs, societies, and events on offer, but there are a few examples on the website to give you an idea of what to expect.

University is to a certain extent, what you make it. So why not put the preparation time in to make sure you make it one of the best experiences of your life.

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