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Starting university this year? 10 things to expect from your first term

Your time at university may well turn out to be the best years of your life. You’ll make potentially lifelong friends, enjoy new experiences and come out with a degree at the end of the three or four years that will open up a whole new world of job opportunities.


But before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s what you can expect in your first term.

  1. The culture shock

Moving away from home for the first time is pretty daunting. You should spend your first term exploring the local area and meeting the fellow students in your halls. It’s normal to experience homesickness in your first term, but this should lessen as you settle in.

  1. Most of your friends will be made in the first term

Don’t forget that every first-year student you meet when you start university will be in the same basic situation as you of having to get used to a lot of unfamiliar things. University is like a bubble. There will be numerous activities taking place every day, so it’s a great place to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.

With your university halls also likely to have students from many different cultures and with different interests and personalities, you’ll probably develop a friendship circle very quickly.

  1. You’ll be swarmed by nightclub promoters

At university, it’s not unusual to go out three or four times a week, so you’ll be a major target for nightclub promoters. Every day, you’ll have leaflets through your door that will make you aware of the next student night and any drinks promotions on offer. Due to how often students will go out, it’s important for students to have a range of different outfits with them to make sure they can enjoy their night out. Of course, students can always purchase new party and rave outfits from if they wanted to.

  1. You’ll be exposed to a whole world of drinking games

Ring of Fire, Beer Pong, Never Have I Ever and Mushroom are great games to play before a night out – especially in the first term. They will help to break the ice with your housemates and add some enjoyment to your pre-drinking session. The student-focused section of the MyVoucherCodes website even recently detailed some of the most popular drinking games that you might want to try.

  1. You’ll quickly work out the cost of solo living

Groceries don’t magically appear in the fridge, unfortunately. You’ll have to venture out to the supermarket every couple of days to pick up the essentials – and when you do so, you’ll quickly realise that own-brand products are often the way to go.

Items like milk, cheese and cereals can be pretty expensive, so you should be sure to look out for promotions and cheaper alternatives. When you factor in shopping trips, nights out and the purchase of supplies like pots and pans, your first term at university can drain your bank balance quicker than you might have expected.

  1. Your first day on the course will be full of meetings

It’s unlikely that you’ll jump straight into the nitty-gritty of your course on the first day. You’ll spend some time choosing your optional modules, meeting your course-mates and getting to know your lecturers. There will be a lot of paperwork involved at this point, so you should take a folder to keep everything organised.

  1. Work will come at you thick and fast

As your first term rolls on, the amount of coursework you’ll get for each of your modules will probably increase significantly. You may find that you have two or three projects to do a week, as well as further reading for your lectures, so it’s important to make a schedule of the work that you have to do and stick to it – otherwise, you may fall behind before the first term is even over.

  1. Contact time with your lecturers will be less than at college or sixth form

This will take some getting used to, but your lecturers won’t be able to hold your hand through your coursework – they will have too many students to teach. You will be expected to revise for exams independently, as detailed in this guide from the University of Oxford, and then receive more detailed feedback in your seminars.

Depending on the course, you may only be in class for eight hours a week – but that doesn’t mean the workload is easier, as lots of independent study will be expected.

  1. You’ll have to think about your career at an early stage

It might only be your first term, but a lot of universities now place a strong emphasis on employability and will urge you to consider your long-term plans from an early stage. Many courses offer extracurricular activities that are specific to the industries that you may wish to enter. Make sure you take advantage of these, as according to the Prospects website, 70% of employers believe that extracurricular activities make graduates stand out from the crowd.

  1. It will fly by!

With so much going on in terms of settling in, nights out, getting used to your course and so on, time will pass by quickly during your first term. Before you know it, you will be heading home for Christmas and preparing to come back for your second term. However, lots of work and revision is usually given out for Christmas, so you should be sure to factor this in as well.

Remember to enjoy your first term at university – after all, unless you are lucky enough to do more than one higher education course in your lifetime, it will only happen once!