Starting university or college is both exciting and potentially daunting. Get a head start with this helpful guide.

starting university college top tips

If you’re about to start university or college, you’re probably excited and a little overwhelmed. Settling in to new digs, finding your way around campus, and making new friends can be intimidating, especially if you’re from out of town.


You can make the transition to higher education more easily by being organised and properly prepared. Here are a few tips that’ll help you get started in the best possible way.


Get organised before term starts

Student accommodation is always at a premium, especially in university towns like Stellenbosch and Grahamstown. If you’re not living at a university or college residence, and want safe, clean and affordable lodgings close to campus, it’s essential you start looking for shared digs well before the term starts.


Buy linen and personal items a week or so before you move in to your room. Leave shared items, like kitchenware, until you’ve met your roommates to discuss who buys what.


Try and visit the university bookstore as soon as you get your course information sheets. That way, you’ll get first dibs on any second hand books and course material.


Set a schedule

Diarise lectures, tutorials and seminars for all your subjects for the full term. It will create a visual picture of your on-campus schedule.


Allot most of your free time to study sessions, but don’t forget to integrate the social component into your day. Try out the schedule for the first few weeks, and make adjustments as required.


Once you have a workable blueprint of your student activities, be disciplined about following your master plan. In other words, attend every lecture and tutorial, and study when you’re meant to study. You’ll find you’ll be able to cope more easily with the additional workload typical of tertiary education.


Work out a budget

As most of you are school leavers with no real experience with money management, it’s essential you work out a budget – and stick to it. Make sure you have enough money to cover the costs of food, rent, books and basics. If you have any cash over, allocate most of it to emergency expenses.


Then, and only then, can you calculate what you can safely spend on entertainment. If you’re serious about balancing your budget, avoid taking your credit or debit card along with you on big nights’ out.


Carry cash instead. Once you have exhausted your ‘fun fund’, do not be tempted to withdraw more money at the ATM!


Eat communally

Living on a meagre student budget means you’ll have to forgo certain luxuries. Eating at restaurants, fast food takeouts, or even the college canteen is usually way beyond the budget. It’s also not the healthiest way to nourish your body and brain.


The cheapest and easiest way to eat is communally. You can do this by drawing up a weekly or monthly meal schedule, where each roommate is responsible for buying the ingredients and preparing the food for an equal number of meals.


Find affordable storage for students 

Living in digs or shared student accommodation means less personal space. There’ll be limited space to store books, sports and hobby equipment, travel bags and clothing. You may also need to make other arrangements for storing your belongings during holidays.


An affordable solution is XtraSpace student storage. Contact us for more information.


Contact us