Preparing for university with Emily Nicole Roberts
From finance to accessibility, Emily Nicole discusses what you need to have the best time at university
So, you’re thinking of going to university?! Congratulations brain-box you’re going to smash it!!
Now, you know what they say: “poor planning and preparation leads to a poor performance”.
Sorry, I just wanted to sound like a lecturer to get you in the mood.
Seriously though, I know you’ve got the learning down to a T, but let's chat about what you need to have the best time at uni too.
The first and most important step is finances!! I know... it sounds boring but I’ll make it quick.
When you narrow down your course options and where you’re able to study them, your funds become an important next step to think about.
First, how much is it to study at your university of choice? (always have a few back-up options too, just in case. Try not to put all of your eggs in one basket).
Just remember, university is a life experience, not a day trip or just something to put in your Instagram bio.
Hello I’m Chelsie, I am a 22‐year‐old media production graduate living my daily life with cerebral palsy.
Think about the feasibility of uni life too, pardon the pun.
Yes, you’ve paid the tuition fees to study at uni but can you afford to rent accommodation there and stay in halls? Have you looked into how much a cup of coffee is in the city? Trust me, there’s a difference between a coffee in Chelsea and Colchester.
The good news? Student finance does exist!!
The bad news is, unless you want to be paying for everything while you’re retiring, unlike popular belief, the loan is NOT meant to be spent on a holiday to Ibiza with your mates, a car or a brand new MacBook, *to study with*.
Yes, we all like a treat, but student finance is finance in order to become a good student above all else! Don’t shoot the messenger!!
Visit the campus
So, after saving for uni alone or getting some help, what’s the next step?
Exciting stuff looms, as my next top tip would be to visit the campuses and see how you feel in each.
After all, you’re going to be spending loads of time there, so you’ve got to feel comfortable haven’t you?!
Even more so, if you want to ‘fly the nest’, studying across the country or even abroad, you’ve got to check out the cost of living abroad OR the travel to and from home, your daily commute, even the cost of going to town or down the local Tesco.
Remember, without scaring you, in uni you are your own boss, and while this can have loads of perks, it can also have little surprises for your bank balance too.
The cost of a weekly shop, having to buy washing powder, paying for utilities like gas, electric and water bills, if they’re not included in your accommodation rates or rent agreement, all costs!!
While going to a new city or country is beyond exciting, studying at home can have its perks too!!
With less expenses and home just around the corner, it may be the fit for you if you’re not ready to throw yourself in at the deep end and spend, spend, spend.
Next? Does the uni have the right access features for you? Of course before studying anywhere you have to check out accessibility!!
It sounds obvious but if you’re focused on your degree, your disability may have become an afterthought.
Thankfully, universities are required to have a certain level of access for you, by law.
So if you need support around campus, be that in the shape of an extra pair of hands to open doors or a lift, this isn’t an expense, just a right to be equal.
Of course, some universities may be a touch moderner than others, having features that enable your independence too.
So, it may be worth spending more money to enrol as a student there (if it’s pricier) as your freedom is ultimately priceless and will make your life as a student easy too!
Buying the little things
Another cost at uni that sometimes goes unnoticed is buying the little things.
The cost of learning resources, new clothes (cuz, if you’re like me, you can’t be seen DEAD in anything twice).
I haven't even talked about furnishing your new digs yet!! That house plant isn’t going to buy itself.
Real talk though, it’s important that you feel your best and make your new surroundings to study/live in as homely as possible.
Just expect your wallet to feel the effect of IKEA and ASOS for the next two years (before you wear the same jumper for a week and invest in air freshener instead of candles).
Socialising at uni can also get pricey if unchecked. Yes, student nights exist in bars and clubs but *spoiler alert* the drinks still aren’t free.
Try and get thrifty with friends, make your own cocktails and watch a movie at home instead of ALWAYS going to the cinema. Bored of going out for food? Cook for each other instead!
Take advantage of student discount deals in shops, make your lunch instead of eating at the cafeteria every day, use your transport pass instead of paying for a vehicle and fuel. The list is endless!!
If you receive DLA or PIP, maybe start saving a bit each month if you can, incase you get a leak at your flat or you need some new software to study with on your course.
Be a social butterfly, just make sure you’re not living beyond your means too!!
Remember, uni is like a trial to adulthood with exams thrown in.
As cringe as it sounds, if you’re wondering whether you should splurge or save... ask yourself, “what would mum and dad do?” AKA, the real adults.
Have fun, with your funds.