Receiving offers from your universities is an exciting experience. But once you have accepted your offer, what happens next? If you accept an unconditional offer, you will ultimately have peace of mind and confidence that you have a guaranteed place at the university. However, the next steps will remain similar for both conditional and unconditional offers. I myself have recently accepted my university offer so I feel I am in a good position to give you some much needed advice.
In short, once you’ve accepted your university offer you should begin to prepare for university. This may include applying for student finance, opening up a new bank account or buying stationary.
I advise that you continue reading to gain a better understanding of the next steps you need to take to ensure you are prepared to begin university.
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Apply for Student Finance
One step you should definitely take after accepting your offer if you have not already is to apply for student finance. Applying for student finance is essential to make sure you are able to pay for your university course.
The aim of student finance is to provide students with financial support in form of a loan. These loans eventually need to be paid back. The repayments of the loans start once you are earning £19,895 per year or more. You can apply for student finance through the Gov UK website.
The student finance loans will allow you to pay for your course tuition fees and accommodation. The amount of money you are eligible for will depend upon a few factors, these include your parents’ income and whether you are studying at home or moving away from home. Check out this article to find out more.
There are two types of student loan, these include a tuition fee loan (a loan to cover the cost of your course) and a maintenance loan (a loan to cover living costs). The minimum tuition fee loan is £9,000 and the maximum is £9,250, these figures are dependent on the regional location of your university. The minimum maintenance loan is £3,516 for students living at home, whilst the maximum is £12,382 for students living in London.
Applications for student finance usually open around March. Students have to apply before a deadline which depends on when their university course starts. It can take up to six weeks to process an application, so it is important that you do not leave it until the last minute. To read more about when you can apply for student finance click here.
Apply for Your University Accommodation
Another important next step is to apply for your student accommodation. For some universities, university managed accommodation is allocated on a first come first served basis. Therefore, it is important to check this with your university to ensure you apply for your accommodation as early as possible.
Many universities have a deadline for accommodation applications so you must apply within the time allocated. Additionally, some universities prioritise the university managed accommodation for first year students. Due to the fact there is variance between different universities it is vital you check with the university you are attending.
It is also important to consider what type of accommodation you would like. If your university is a campus university, you will be able to apply for university managed accommodation which means it is controlled by the university. If your university is not a campus, you will have to find accommodation to rent near to the university. Some campus universities offer both university managed accommodation, or the opportunity to find and rent your own accommodation.
Many universities also offer different standards of accommodation usually at different prices in order to accommodate all pupils. Therefore, it is beneficial to go on an accommodation tour at your university to see which accommodation will best suit you.
Additionally, it is a good idea to check if you can change your accommodation if you are not happy with the room standard or location you are allocated. Many universities have processes which will allow you to apply for an accommodation change, however, there may be a deadline for this.
The university may also have more than one campus meaning it may be worth visiting the campus to see which you prefer. You should also consider which campus your lessons will take place on.
Attend an Open Day or Applicant Day at Your University
One great way to get more familiar with your chosen university after accepting your offer is to attend as many open days, university tours and campus tours as possible. This will enable you to become more familiar with the university itself and the surrounding area.
You will have the opportunity to see some of the university’s facilities including the library, halls of residence, student union and lecture theatres. Furthermore, you will have the opportunity to chat to current students to get first-hand information about life at the university.
After you accept your offer, you are likely to receive an invite to an applicant day at your university. Applicant days are much more tailored to you and will likely include a tour around the university. Going on a university tour will give you the chance to meet other students who you are likely to be studying with and your lecturers. You will also have the opportunity to learn more about your chosen course.
Both a university and applicant day will give you more of an insight into your chosen university and the area you may be moving to for your study.
Open a Student Bank Account
Opening a student bank account is a good next step to ensure you are prepared for university. The process of setting up and opening a student bank account is made easy with your UCAS status codes which you can find if you log into your UCAS account.
A student bank account is beneficial in many ways. Firstly, it allows you to have your student finance loans (tuition fee and maintenance loan) paid into an account separate from your personal account, meaning you can easily budget that money separately to your own savings in your usual bank account. Additionally, the account offers students extra features such as an interest free overdraft.
If you decide to open a student bank account, it needs to be set up before you start university. For some banks, you can only create a student bank account once you have received your A-level results and have your university place confirmed.
According to this source, the best student bank accounts of 2021 include the Nationwide Flex student account, the Santander 123 student current account and the Barclays student additions account, so I recommend you check these out.
If you decide to use your student bank account for your student finance loans, you need to ensure your new bank details are updated at student finance before the money enters your account. For more information about student bank accounts, check out this helpful UCAS article.
Arrange Your University Travel
If you will be commuting to and from university every week, it is a good idea to plan your travel and the cost. There are many discounts available for all types of travel from travelling by train or by plane if you are studying abroad.
For students travelling by train, there are many discounts such as a 16-25 railcard. Students can purchase this rail card for £30 for the year or £70 for three years and save up to a third off full price train ticket. The railcard can also be sent to you through the post as a plastic card or can be digitally installed on a smartphone. For more information about a railcard, check out this helpful article.
Likewise, if you are not travelling as far or need to take a bus for part of your journey, you may benefit from a student bus pass. According to this source, if you are a student under 19 years old and you live more than three miles from your closest university campus, you can apply for a free bus pass. You may also be eligible for other student discounts for travel by bus if you are a full-time university student.
If you are a student and planning to travel abroad to study, it is important that you plan and budget for your travel by plane. Websites such as student universe offer student discounts and deals for students who are in full time higher education.
Look at the UCAS Adjustment Service
For students who have accepted an unconditional university offer, you are unlikely to need to use UCAS adjustment. This service is mainly for students who exceed in their results and therefore wish to change their course or university on results day.
The UCAS adjustment service can only be used on results day and after (for a limited time only) when your firm conditional choice becomes unconditional. It is an optional process but is something I advise you learn more about so that if on results day you exceed what grades you were predicted, you could consider swapping your course or university for another one.
If you try the UCAS adjustment service but don’t find another course or university and decide not to change, your original offer is still safe. To access the adjustment service, you need to log into your UCAS track on or after results day. For more information about the UCAS adjustment service, check out this UCAS website.
The difference between UCAS adjustment and clearing is the UCAS adjustment service is for students who exceed the conditions of their offer on results day, whilst the UCAS clearing service is for students who do not meet the conditions of their offer. For more information about the UCAS clearing service, check out this helpful article.
Prepare for University Whilst Waiting for Your Results
One way to organise yourself for university whilst waiting for your A-level results is to create a checklist for items you need for university. There are many templates online for you to use or you can make your own.
Create a University Checklist
It is ideal to divide the list into sections, such as items for the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom, but be sure to check exactly what you need with your university. For example, the university may provide you with kitchen appliances such as a kettle or toaster. Additionally, find out whether you can decorate your room for example sticking posters on the wall or drilling a hole to hang a clock up. Some universities do not allow items to be hung on the walls.
Once you have created your university checklist and have checked certain items with the university and their living regulations, you can go shopping and purchase items off your list. This will help you to be prepared earlier and prevent you rushing around a week before you start university trying to get everything you need.
Make the Most of Student Discounts
Be sure to check for some student discounts as many shops including Wilkinson’s, Matalan and Ikea offer student discounts. There are also student bundles for the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom which you can purchase and have sent directly to the university for when you arrive. For more information about this, check out this helpful website.
Create a University Budget
Another way to get organised for university is to create a budget plan for all your spending. You should consider your travel costs, accommodation, resources, and food on a weekly or monthly basis. You should also consider your loans, particularly your maintenance loan and budget this to cover your main costs such as travel and accommodation.
Additionally, you could plan your travel route. If you are travelling a longer distance each week, you may need to use more than one form of public transport. Moreover, you may find you are walking to your lectures every day so should time the distance between your accommodation and lectures to make sure you will arrive on time. This will prevent you turning up late on your first day!
Learn From Other University Students
Watching videos or reading blogs by current university students will enable you to get familiarised with university life and will allow you to gain some tips and have some of your questions answered.
There are some university chat groups, Facebook pages or apps such as Unibuddy which will allow you to engage with current students at your university meaning you can ask them any questions. Through joining these chat groups, you may also meet some students who will be in your classes.
If you are keen to learn a hobby before university, cooking may be beneficial. Learning to cook could be a very helpful skill to have at university, especially if you are cooking your own meals due to budgeting. It is unlikely you will be able to have a McDonalds every night!
University is no doubt an exciting yet terrifying prospect. However, once you have created a university checklist, applied for your accommodation, and applied for your student finance you will undoubtedly feel more organised and ready to go to university.