What to do if you are finding life after university hard

The university bubble has burst, and you’ve been propelled into adulthood seemingly overnight. All of a sudden, your level of responsibility has skyrocketed and you’ve got several important decisions to make. 

Finishing university and starting your new life as a graduate isn’t always easy. It may take some time for you to find your feet. But what should you do if you are finding that your life after university is hard? 

In this post, we share tips for graduates who are finding life after university hard. 

Why is life after university hard?

Everyone’s journey after university is unique, however, there are some common challenges that graduates face and find difficult. Here are some examples and solutions:

#1: You are unsure of your career path

life after university is hard
Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

So you’ve left university and you feel an overwhelming pressure to start working life. However, you don’t know what career path is right for you. 

Perhaps it was your dream since sixth form to finish university and become an Ecologist, but you haven’t been able to find any entry-level jobs in that field. 

Or maybe you applied for several graduate schemes and jobs throughout your final year of university but kept getting rejected. 

The truth is, many people don’t know what to do in terms of their career after university. 

Solutions:

  • Get some professional careers advice. Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped over 500 students and graduates to discover their career path, land their dream job and thrive in their careers. Find out more about our one-to-one coaching programme.

  • Audit your skills. Write down a list of your hard and soft skills. 
  • Work out your career typology. Companies hire 3 types of graduates: communicators, knowledge architects and specialists. Get yourself a copy of The Student Book to find out more about graduate job typologies and to identify yours.

  • Get some work experience. Gaining experience will help you to better understand what roles and working environments you like.  

Key takeaway: 

Invest time into working out what career is right for you. Do not ‘panic apply’ for several jobs and don’t put off this step and opt for postgraduate studies. A Master’s degree may not be the answer for you. 

Many graduates do not get a job straight out of university. Don’t give up on your graduate job search and use this experience to build your resilience.

#2: You aren’t enjoying your job 

Many graduates go through a hard time after university because they simply do not enjoy their job. 

48% of graduates never land a graduate-level job and remain underemployed. This is the harsh reality. Life after university is hard when you feel as though the time, money and energy you invested in your studies hasn’t paid off. 

Many graduates take up jobs that they are overqualified for so that they can start earning money to support themselves. 

Fortunately, even if you graduated a year or more ago, you are still eligible to apply for graduate schemes and jobs. 

Solutions: 

  • If you are unhappy in your job, start thinking about switching careers. Contact us, for help with successfully transitioning into the right job for you. We can help you to find a job and to excel in your new role. 
  • Study the job market and identify the skills that you need to develop to boost your employability. 

Key takeaway

If you took up any job after university, rather than a good graduate job, all is not lost. regardless of what job you are in now, you will have gained several transferable skills that will make it much easier to get a new job.

There is no age limit when it comes to getting a graduate job, so stay positive and research your next career move. 

Read: Stuck in a dead-end job with a degree [There’s hope]

#3: You reluctantly moved back home with your parents 

Leaving university and moving back home is not easy for all graduates. It can be really hard for some graduates to come to terms with. 

After being away and living independently for the past 3-4 years has become the norm for you. 

Maybe you had hoped that you would stay in your university town or that you would get a flat with some of your uni mates. 

Whatever your situation is, moving back home can be a big adjustment to some and very stressful for others. 

Solutions 

  • If you are set on moving out of your parents home as soon as possible, devise a realistic plan to follow to ensure that you can do so. This may involve some career planning so that you can fund your move. 
  • Communicate your concerns effectively with your family members so that they understand how you feel. 

#4: You miss university 

As much as you hated pulling all-nighters in the library and racing to meet your deadlines, you enjoyed student life

Whilst you were at university, you probably met lots of new people and made lifelong friends from all over the world. 

Now that you have finished you may not see them as frequently and may miss the social life that you built for yourself. 

You created so many memories whilst at university, and leaving it all behind can be really hard. 

Solutions: 

  • Attend alumni reunions at your university
  • Stay in touch with your uni friends and make the time to meet up with them 
  • Connect with your peers on social media 
  • Continue to do the things you enjoyed whilst at university. For example, join a local sports club and continue to work on your social life. 
  • Take positive actions to improve and maintain your mental health. This may involve getting daily exercise and plenty of sleep. Many graduates report feeling depressed or experiencing the “graduation blues” if you feel this way, be sure to speak to someone. 

Summary: what to do if you think life after university is hard 

If you think life after university is hard, you’re not alone in feeling this way. Leaving university and starting your new journey is a big life change. Many young people feel confused about their careers and unsure of the future.

This is normal. Progress your post graduate life by making informed decisions, planning and being proactive. 

Remember, if you are facing difficulties finding a graduate job, do not hesitate to contact us here at Graduate Coach.

6 Top Tips for Masters Students

About to start your masters or just starting?

Check out these 6 tips for masters students below!

Entering a new phase of study can be intimidating and more complex than your undergraduate studies.

However, with the right mindset and knowhow, completing your Master’s degree can be extremely rewarding and a great accolade on your CV.

#1: Think like a Fresher

As you enter the start of your postgraduate studies, your social situation will change. Even if you are continuing at the same university you did your undergraduate in. 

Most likely, you will have to rebuild much of your social circle – in which the first few weeks will be key. 

Generally, taking the approach of Freshers’ will most likely help you – that is, engage in as many activities as possible. These are, for example:

  • Societies and Sports Clubs. Though you may only be there for a year or two, it is still a great opportunity to link with new people.

    At the beginning of the year societies and clubs are flooded with new students –don’t worry about sticking out as a postgrad.
  • Take part in Student Union run Freshers’ events. Though you might not go to all the clubbing events, there are still an array of more ‘mature’ events, or indeed bespoke postgraduate events that you can take advantage of.

  • Actively engage and talk with people in your field of study. During the first month of studies, most people will be in the same boat – keen to make new friends.

    Be sure to network and forge some early social bonds while everyone is receptive. Indeed, it offers an opportunity to have a ‘study buddy’ in the future when assessment season comes around.

  • Check out our 5 Tops Tips for Starting University if you want to read further.

#2: Structure your Time

Photo by Michaela from Pexels

Chances are, if you were like me, you were pretty fast and loose in your undergraduate studies when it came to organising yourself. 

I remember the last few weeks of my undergraduate studies rushing to squeeze out assignments in the last few weeks, or skim-reading 80 pages of literature before a three-hour seminar.

Unfortunately, as I tried, continuing this strategy into your postgraduate studies or masters degree does not work.

The amount of readings that you will have to trawl through is considerably higher, and far more complex than undergraduate studies. 

It was certainly a rude awakening as I found that I had to plan my readings days in advance and break sections into time slots.

I’m sorry, but most of us mortal beings cannot process 150 pages of journal articles in one sitting, and merely reading the introduction and conclusion is not enough.

In my case, I would often allocate a certain number of pages to read each day. 

It’s good to know how fast you read (whether an A4 or A5 document) so you have a rough idea of how much time it may block out.

It’s important to take into account however that you will read considerably slower than casual reading, and especially as you make notes.

Some people prefer to allocate a fixed time of reading (say two to three hours per day), but I found this unsatisfying.

An achievement-based approach where you hit a fixed target can give you effective closure, and prevent you worrying about work during the rest of your day (you will after all, still want to maintain your personal life?).

#3: Figure out how You Best Learn

lightbulb on blackboard

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

You’ll probably know what kind of learner you are. Some people prefer to learn via lectures, reading, or actively engaging in seminars.

While you may have had some ‘out of the box’ working strategies from your A-Levels or Undergraduate studies, they will most likely become inadequate as you transition to your Master’s degree.

The amount of information you will have to process and understand requires you understand how you best learn. You don’t want to commit time to a learning method that has limited return.

Some people like mind maps, flashcards, highlighting, or working with pen and paper as it can help them absorb the content better.

Many of these methods can be categorised into four categories: Auditory, Visual, Written or Kinaesthetic.

 You can get a good explanation of these groups and what style of learning you are here, and possibly a new strategy to adopt. 

Knowing how you learn best, can help you to develop your study skills and to work more productively.

➡️Read: How to study from home effectively for some of our top study tips!

#4: Strategise your Assessments

Tips for Masters Students

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

In my undergraduate studies, I could start and finish assessments, days before they were due in.

Needless to say, this isn’t something anyone should condone. However, in your master’s degree, you won’t have the luxury of choice, and you will have to plan well in advance.

I very quickly found that essay questions were considerably more difficult to answer and required far more thought, research and reading to fulfil. 

Even if some are the same word count as undergraduate assessments, often the work will produce will have to be more nuanced. However, there are some pitfalls you need to avoid.

Tips for tackling your assignments strategically

  •  Don’t follow a fixed plan. By the very least, have a rough outline of a plan that offers flexibility. As you research your topic, the scope and shape of your argument will change in an unexpected direction.

    Articles you thought were relevant may not be necessary at all, and newly found literature will become far more relevant. Chances are, if you properly research your argument your initial research plan will have little bearing to your final draft.
  • Use your study time efficiently. When writing your assessment, you will invest considerable hours into that piece of work. Regularly ask yourself with whatever you plan to do that it is an effective use of your work time.

    You don’t want to commit to reading fifty pages of a journal article that has little relevance to your argument.

Or, if you spend two hours creating a timetable and reading list that most likely won’t be followed as your assessment changes, was it a good use of time?

  • Don’t be afraid to commit to writing the essay. It’s common to feel uncomfortable about starting the essay as you may lack clarity of what your argument is.

    So, you end up sinking into a hole of reading more and more literature in the hopes for a sudden moment of clarity (I recall a time when I had 27,000 words of notes for a 3,000-word essay).

    It’s nice when you have an epiphany, but don’t count on it happening every time.

Sometimes, as unpleasant as it may be, forcing yourself to write your assessments will give you clarity of what you want to say and what you’re lacking. 

It’s always tough to make a start, but that’s the hardest part.

#5: Keep your Future Career in Mind

Tips for Masters Students

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Whether you’ve started your master’s as a stepping stone towards a PhD or merely to stay at university for another year, the inexorable question of what your career will still remain. It’s good to allocate time in the week on career development.

Keep in mind that 48% of graduates never land a graduate-level job. You don’t want to contribute to that statistic. Here are some key pointers:

  •  Keep following the key industries you’re interested in.

  • Network as much as possible with people who are associated with those industries. They could offer key insights or help in the future.

  •  Check the key employability skills requirements many job offers specify. Ask yourself whether you answer these convincingly – do you need additional experience in certain areas?

  • Consider a Graduate Coach to best guide you through to the world of employment. If you’re unsure, check out this blog: ‘Why you should consider getting a graduate coach.’

#6: Don’t Forget: You’re still allowed to have fun

Photo by Arthur Brognoli from Pexels

The last of our tips for masters students is to enjoy your postgraduate studies.

Many start their master’s degree, with all guns blazing, view that they’ll take their studies more seriously and prioritise work. While in theory, this is laudable, it isn’t realistic.

In reality, you’re merely setting yourself up to burn out in a few weeks’ time. It will most likely impact the quality of your work.

Keeping a balance of alternative activities and time to yourself throughout your postgraduate studies will benefit you.

Most importantly, following steps to look after your mental wellbeing is a good place to work around your weekly schedules.

If you’re unsure of where to start, check out the University of Sussex’s article on looking after your mental wellbeing; it has some great pointers and explanations on how best to manage your mental wellbeing and suggestions for healthy activities.

Conclusion: 6 Tips for masters students

Whether going back to university or continuing from undergraduate, entering the phase of postgraduate studies can be intimidating. 

However, with these 6 tips for masters students, you’ll have a good idea of how best to approach this exciting challenge. 

Certainly, with this article, you can view your master’s degree not as intimidating, but a hugely rewarding challenge to overcome.

We hope you have found this post sharing tips for masters students helpful!

By Peter Anson

Should I work or study after graduation?

The decision of whether to work or study after graduation can be tricky. 

On one hand, you have just achieved your Bachelor’s degree after three or more years of university. Now you feel it is time to find a job. 

On the other, you may wish to pursue a Masters degree. This can open to the door to gaining further expertise, relocation and even a change in subject. 

However, we at Graduate Coach generally advise most graduates against doing a Masters degree straight after their undergraduate studies. 

Below let us detail why we are in favour of alternatively chasing a career path.

#1. A Masters degree is not as special anymore 

The popularity of postgraduate courses has led to its oversaturation.

In 2018 approximately 54% of those who took a Masters believed doing so improved their employability prospects. 

Whilst it certainly doesn’t do them any harm, it won’t necessarily help you stand out either. 

There is astounding competitiveness for any graduate job, with up to 650 applications per available position. Considering this, it is not a particular degree that will command attention, it will be relevant work experience.

And so whilst having a Masters is an accomplishment, it may not make you the most interesting job candidate. 

Once past the initial application, a would-be employer is looking for a personality, life achievements and grit. 

So going for a postgraduate degree is probably not separating you from good undergraduates. 

Considering all of this it would make more sense, from deciding to work or study after graduation, to work. 

#2. A Masters is time-consuming and expensive

The belief that it is difficult to get a job after university isn’t a reason to begin pursuing postgraduate studies.

Of course, there are some academic exceptions. Some specialist graduate roles may require a Masters degree in a specific subject.

An example of a graduate role that may require a Master’s degree is Economic consulting.

The facts surrounding the average Masters:

  • It can cost up to £7,946 which on top of your previous studies is a significant addition. 
  • Will take another year of precious time. 
  • Roughly 40% of all current graduates have completed some form of higher education qualifications. This, in turn, has caused it to lose its unique value.  
  • Not to mention stressful!

⚠️Also worth noting is going for a Masters under the current circumstances will not be value for money. 

Many tutorials will be online rather than face-to-face. It is because of this it would be worth looking at the job market.

#3. Work or study after graduation? Why work is beneficial

During university, it is essential that you upskill yourself as much as possible.

As detailed in Chris Davies’ The Student Book it is important you use time in between semesters to gain work experience. 

Gaining work experience is critical because:

  • An internship will make you business-aware (Communication, problem-solving, resilient). 
  • You will begin to develop a top CV that highlights your achievements. 
  • Somebody with employability skills is preferable to a person who can’t demonstrate any.

An undergraduate degree alongside the above can give any candidate as many credentials as a Masters graduate.

It’s crucial to discover the lines of work you enjoy doing. 

The biggest point of working at a company is if your interests lie there. Otherwise, in the long run, you will regret it!

By going straight into work you can: 

  • Attain what job you might like and don’t like
  • Acquire important working expertise which makes you transferable. 
  • Avoid losing over a year’s worth of this important time taking a Masters which may not boost your employability.

#4. Skill building is more invaluable than a Masters

Whilst technical knowledge is important, it is critical you can demonstrate emotional intelligence skills. 

Wondering what exactly that is? It is the critical abilities that are considered essential for employability. 

Instead of needing to decide to work or study after graduation, if you have prepared, work is the obvious choice.

The key employability skills: 

  • Communication & Literacy (Expressing yourself clearly in speech and text).
  • Problem Solving (Being creative in solution finding).
  • Resilience (An attitude built around bouncing back from a mishap or delay in progression).
  • Teamwork (This is not simply just being able to work with others. It is about being able to work with anyone and entwining your interpersonal skills with that). 
  • Organisation & Planning (Being able to present a positive personal image to anyone). 
  • Working on your own initiative (The enthusiasm to make things happen from your own willpower and self-reliance). 
Key employability skills chart

Read: Key employability skills for graduates

As outlined in The Student Book these employability skills are sought after by any graduate recruiter. They can be acquired during the course of university.

Acquiring any job after university may be hard, but by developing yourself beforehand it’ll give you the best chance. 

The best personal development can be by:

  • Paid work (It may not be relevant to the field you are interested in. Yet working at a shop or bar part-time can give you vital customer service skills and sharpen your basic numeracy).
  • Internships (unpaid or paid it does not matter, but they have become undeniably important in the process of getting a job. It is beneficial in the application stage you have done something relatable to the job for the recruiter).
  • University activity (What you may have done with a society, with the Student Union, volunteering, open days, writing etc).
  • Hobbies (Try and see how your interests can be relatable to the workspace and how this could be sought after).

If you can display that you individually have much of the above, you will be of interest to many recruiters!

The best way to exhibit all of this is naturally through a CV.

A good CV is invaluable and allows you to make the transition from university straight to the world of work.

Worried about having a CV but not enough experience to add to it? Check out this blog entry here, and equally start looking to get some!

work or study after graduation

#5. What type of work should I look at instead of a Masters?

When deciding to work or study after graduation, many people have chosen to do a Masters.

As aforementioned, they do this as they think it will boost their employability prospects.

But many of the increasingly popular graduate schemes simply demand a 2:1, some at a minimum a 2:2.

Furthermore, a graduate job doesn’t expect nor require further study from you. 

The actual value of a Masters is no different once you embark on a graduate scheme. You will be treated the same as everyone else.

If you actually NEED a Masters, more often than not your company will pay for your courses to get one. 

By your final year of university, you should have a good idea of what career you will embark on. 

There are plenty of options, but still aren’t sure what you might be interested in? Let us help widen your search.

In past blog entries, we at Graduate Coach have highlighted why technology and digital careers are becoming increasingly prominent. 

Equally, many prominent companies in traditional financial services offer plenty of graduate schemes. 

There are also many different recruitment companies who are looking for graduates to send to interviews.

We have found the best ones for you. These can help you advance into the interview stage of a job before you have even left university!

Instead of making a panic decision to do a Masters, consider what you can achieve instead over a year. 

This could be going and trying a job you aren’t sure of, taking an internship or apprenticeship. 

It is likely by the end of this you will have achieved invaluable experience that will serve you much better.

#6. Being confident in your plans

It is important going forward that you believe it whatever plan you set.

Leaving yourself in doubt or unsure of what path you’ve taken will damage your confidence going forward.

Remember you are far from the only one if you are worried about the end of university.

There is a lot of content and help available to make sure you succeed! 

Also, not everyone might go to work or take a Masters. You can always consider taking a gap year! Especially as once you begin working it’ll be difficult to fit one in.

Across a gap year, you can do your fair share of travelling. But also, make a plan for an approach to the job world. However, this won’t be possible this summer as a result of COVID-19

This article is particularly good at weighing up the benefits of a post-graduation gap year.

So, all-in-all, do not be worried about what is to come. It is a natural process and with a bit of preparation, you can tackle all of it!

If you think this article will help anyone in making a decision for the future, please share it below.

Deciding to work or study after graduation is not simple, but hopefully, this article made it so!

Written by Archie Everad

12 Things to consider when choosing a university

As I’m sure you already know, choosing a university is one of the toughest decisions of your academic life. 

I remember going through exactly the same process myself. Did it have a good reputation for the course I wanted to do? Can I make the grades?

What’s the city like? 

All these questions just made the decision more overwhelming and, initially, it was hard to narrow it down to one definitive place.

So if you’re like me, don’t worry! Let’s dive in and I’ll show you the 12 things to consider when choosing a university. 

#1: University Website

This might seem like an obvious starting point but checking out the university website can give you great insights into what the university is like. There are often Q and A’s with academics and students. There are student blogs giving you a realistic view of what life is like there. 

I’d also recommend ordering a prospectus from every university you’re considering applying for, as this will go into more depth than what you will find on a website. 

#2: League Tables

This gives a clear indication of how well universities are performing well at the moment. They use many metrics, such as graduate prospects, student satisfaction and entry requirements so you can dig deeper into what makes each university successful. 

I’d recommend using “The Complete University Guide” which is broken down into a comprehensive ranking for each subject. You can see how they rank depending on which metric is important to you.

However, it is important to only use league tables for guidelines. Every league table will look different as it will use different weightings and categories.

Rankings fluctuate every year and employers are unlikely to know precise rankings. They often judge a university on reputation, such as whether it is a Russell-Group university. Certain employers will also have a history of only employing from certain universities.

#3: Choosing the right course

A recent study by a major job board found out that 44% of students regret their subject choice. Therefore, this is probably the biggest decision to consider when choosing a university. 

Make sure the university you want to go to has a strong reputation in your specific subject. You can find this out on open days or by using student forums such as “The Student Room”. 

You can also research universities by departments and find out what kind of facilities they have. 

If you’re keen to go into the likes of banking, accountancy or insurance, doing a numerate degree such as maths or economics would be advisable.

 If you know what you want to do after university but want to find out what course would help to get you there, why not visit Undergraduate courses | Undergraduate Guides

All you need to do is enter a job or industry you’re interested in and it will give you immediate matches to corresponding university courses.

#4: Think about choosing a course with a placement year

If you know what you want to do after university, why not pick a course that offers a placement year in your third year? 

This will give you invaluable experience into what life is like outside university in your chosen profession. It will place you significantly further ahead of most graduates in your position once you’re applying after university. 

One of my good friends decided to take a placement year in a trading firm in Leeds before returning for the final year.

When it came to applying after university, he was the only graduate in his university to get a place at the prestigious investment bank, Goldman Sachs. He said many times that if it wasn’t for his placement year, he wouldn’t have had a sniff of even getting an interview at Goldman Sachs (let alone a job!) 

➡️Read: How to get a job offer before graduation

 #5: Course content

This leads us to the next point, course content. This is essential to look into as courses can vary dramatically from university to university. For example, the Economics course I studied at Bristol was a lot more maths based than equivalent courses at other universities. This suited me as I was never a big fan of writing long essays!

You can find out the course content on university websites. If it’s still not clear, feel free to get in contact with them and they’ll be more than willing to offer some guidance.

There’s a great site called whatuni.com that can help you compare courses at any university in the UK. They also have a university rating section with thousands of honest reviews from current and former university students. 

#6: Entry requirements

It goes without saying that you should pick a university course that has entry requirements that are in line with your predicted grades. However, far too many students pick an “insurance” choice that, well, isn’t really enough of an “insurance” choice. 

Make sure your “back-up” university choice requires you needing less than your predicted grades. The last thing you want is to be left without a university at all and having to do resits. 

➡️Read: What is clearing? 

#7: Find out about student accommodation

Looking into student accommodation is key. Some universities are campus-based, like the University of Nottingham, whereas some are based in different areas around the city, like the University of Bristol. You may also want to be in a catered hall rather than a self-catered one. 

This link here provides you with a full guide of all you need to know about student accommodation:

➡️Read: What you need to know about student accommodation

What you’d prefer varies from person to person. A campus-based university feels more like a community and makes it easier to navigate your way around. A non-campus university gives you more freedom.  Once you’ve had a look round you’ll get a feel as to what feels like “home”.

#8: Go to as many open days as possible!

This is the single most important thing to do to get an idea of whether you’d enjoy studying there. You can read up as much as you like about a university but the only way you get a feel for what it is like is to go to an open day. 

It’s always going to be an action-packed day with lots of things for students to do, so make sure you plan ahead.

You will be able to go to talks about the subjects you’re interested in. This will give you insights into what it’s like to study there and what the contents of the course will be. 

Try and make sure to ask for some pointers from the admissions tutor. Find out how to make your application stand out and the key things to include in your application. 

It will also give you a chance to have a look around campus to take in what the university would really be like and whether you could see yourself there. You can check out all the facilities as well as the extracurricular activities that are available.

Don’t forget to take some time to look around the city, as this will be a huge part of your overall university experience. You could even go up after on a non-open day to get a real experience of what the university is like.

➡️ Find out more about university open days on UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 

Photo from Pexels

#9: Student Experience

It’s hard to define “student experience”. But I always think of it in terms of what the lifestyle is like for the average student and what makes it different from other universities. 

Do you want to live in a small university-based town or a big city? Do you want a university that is spread out across the city, or one that is more traditional and collegiate based, such as Durham? These are important things to consider when choosing a university given you’ll be spending at least 3 years there and are often overlooked by students.

I studied at Bristol University, and, personally, I preferred the middle ground Bristol had to offer. It was a buzzing city with a lot going on for young people, but it was small enough that you could walk everywhere to give it that homely feel. 

➡️Read How to Enjoy University Life – 7 Top Tips to show you how to make the most of your student experience.

 #10: Check out sports and societies

Do some research into what facilities your university has. Certain universities are known for having phenomenal sports facilities, such as Loughborough and Bath. Baths University’s football team have even famously appeared in the FA Cup first round. 

Take a look at this link to see what some of the best sports facilities at a university can look like:

➡️Read: Loughborough Sports Facilities

Also, be sure to check out the societies available while at an open day (see section 8). If you can’t find the society you’re looking for, don’t worry you can always start it once you’re there!

things to consider when choosing a university - guys playing rugby.
Photo from Pexels

 #11: Distance

Weighing up how far away your university is can be significant. Given how high tuition fees are today, some of you may want to save money and live at home. 

Even if you do want to get as far away from your parents as humanly possible, it may be advisable to not go somewhere too far away as, after all, your poor parents are probably the ones having to help you cart up all your stuff every year!

As fun as university is, you’ll be amazed how much you’ll appreciate the odd, refreshing weekend back at home to recharge the batteries.

Speaking as someone who came from London, I felt it was very important to get out for a few years and study elsewhere. I knew I was likely to head straight back to London afterwards in search of a job, so why not try out somewhere else?

#12: Cost

The final thing to consider when choosing a university is cost. The cost of living can vary dramatically from place to place in the UK. It goes without saying that London is by far the most expensive city to live in. Anything in the South-East will generally be more expensive.

For example, the average pint in London costs £5.18 whilst in Liverpool it’s a more reasonable £3.27. Wherever you go though, there will always be the student union where prices are made to be affordable for students. 

However, do not let the cost of living somewhere put you off too much. Your education should always be your number 1 priority and will be what helps you get a great job afterwards.

You will have your NUS card which can give you discounts on everything from clothing to meals out or even a free burger at Mcdonalds! This was a lifesaver for me during university!

➡️ Read: 7 Money saving tips for university students

Summary: things to consider when choosing a university

So, we’ve gone through quite a lot here so let’s cap things off to finish!

In chronological order, I think that the 3 most important things to consider when choosing a university are: course quality and content, a strong reputation and overall student experience.

Once you can, I’d recommend booking in as many open days as possible.

Now you’ve finished reading this, why not go and order yourself a few prospectuses from University Prospectuses to get the ball rolling? 

Written by Oliver Jenne

5 Top tips for starting university

If you’ve already been to university, you’ll fondly recall it as one of the best times of your life. But one thing we are willing to wager is that many former graduates wished they had been given proper tips before starting university. 

University is an entirely different experience compared to school. Nobody can force you to do anything, what you wish to do and be involved in is up to you. 

In essence, you should be aiming to find a fine balance between your academic and social life, to ensure you get a good degree but also have the best time possible! 

Preparing for university isn’t very difficult or demanding as you will see! All it requires is some basic planning and knowing what to expect. Here are our best tips for starting university:

#1: Manage your student finances

A lot of people starting university will receive a student loan. For some, getting a loan injected into their accounts will be very exciting.

It may be tempting to spend it all on freshers week, but don’t! Budget it out to last the entire semester.

Budgeting requires discipline. That means putting a lot of trust in yourself. 

If you don’t have complete faith in your ability not to spend all your money there is no need to worry, it is just about finding ways to not do so. 

First of all, you could give the loan to a family member, such as a parent, to look after the money and give it to you in a monthly deposit.

This way you have a guaranteed stream of income. This can be helpful in preventing you from not making the loan stretch!

If you decide to manage your money yourself, set a budget and stick to it.

Equally, it is always worth looking into a student bank account which can provide an interest-free overdraft.

▶️Read: Money-saving tips for university students 

#2: Prepare yourself before arriving

Arriving at university fully prepared can make you feel more excited and boost your confidence.

  • Get in touch with the people you are going to be living with through social media. You’ll feel much more at ease getting to know them a bit beforehand.
  • Bring some pre-cooked frozen meals. During freshers week you may not have time to cook proper meals.
  • Read some of the course materials from your reading list. Getting a headstart with your uni work can be a big confidence booster.
  • Bring a pack of cards and fancy dress, you never know when they could come in handy!

#3. Be self-confident 

Starting university can be a big shock, particularly if you have been living at home your whole life. 

In fact, 89.9% of people who attended university last year came from state schools. So for many, it may well be for a huge number of people the first long stretch away from home. 

Even those who went to boarding school are in the same boat as you. University is a new experience for everyone! 

The truth is there is absolutely no reason to be worried in the slightest. 

Confidence is key in life. Many people think they lack it but by biting the bullet and trying something new or introducing yourself to someone you can realise how easy it is.

You can be in charge of how involved you are with anything at university, so try and push yourself to be involved in that little bit extra.

It is good for your mental health to be out-and-about, feeling as involved as much as possible.

Join a society, it is a brilliant and effective way of being part of a large social scene at university:

One important aspect of joining a society is not to join too many! If you do it’ll be difficult to commit fully to all of them timewise and financially as some require a bit of money for meals, drinking or trips!

Instead join one or two, that you ACTUALLY have a proper interest in. This way you will meet like-minded people and have the most fun!

There are so many different types. If you enjoy football, go for the football society. If you consider yourself a connoisseur of wine, join the wine society. Or if you are on your year abroad from, for example, Scandinavia, there will be a Scandinavian society. It is that simple!

Be careful with drinking! There is a big difference between being confident and a clown! So during freshers week and beyond make sure you know your limit on a night out!

Consider this one of the most important tips for starting university!

Everyone likes to be the life of a party, and you can be. It is about no overdoing it. 

Just remember, particularly at university, that a reputation can take a minute to make and a lifetime to break (and vice-versa).

▶️Read: How to Enjoy University Life

Students socialising -tips for starting university

Photo by Isabella Mendes from Pexels

#4: Start building your employability skills in your first year

This may be a suggestion that will cause an eye roll, or a thought in your head saying “but the need to get a job is over three years away!”. 

True, but many university students are making the mistake of looking towards getting a job too late

Start thinking about your career path, and tailoring your skills to approach that over the course of your first year of university. 

Attend freshers fairs and career events

You may also meet recruiters who will be on the hunt for motivated and keen university students, so be prepared!

Organise work experience

Use your summer holiday period wisely! Take every opportunity to boost your CV before you leave university.

Not sure how to approach this? Check out our other posts on the Graduate Coach Blog, containing tips on interviews, CV improvement and exciting job sectors to examine.

The Student Book written by Founder, Chris Davies is essential reading to help you to prepare for the life of work after university.

#5. The smaller but essential tips for starting university!

The following guidance is worth noting as all of the below will undoubtedly arise not long after you start!

Be aware of the following:

Freshers

Do NOT buy the freshers wristband: They cost more than it would to just buy the ticket for the relevant night you are planning on going to.

Unless you plan on going out literally every night during freshers this will save money!

Managing your stress levels

Don’t stress: Anyone who has been to university will tell you there is literally no point getting stressed and overworked in your first year.

It is designed to give you an idea of how the academic structure at university will work, and how to utilise the resources available to you.

Putting unnecessary pressure on yourself is pointless and unproductive.

Plan your accommodation for the second year in advance

Planning a house for your second year: One aspect of student life is that you’re going to meet a lot of people. Try very hard not to commit to a house in your first or second week when you have just met people.

You’ll know who your best friends are a month or two in, it is fine to be choosey!

If you plan a house early on then realise you don’t in fact like somebody in the setup, you’ll cause drama, so plan carefully!

Be sensible with your money

Be money savvy: aside from our money-saving tips article we linked in part one of this post, we encourage you to remember not to blow all your money in freshers!

Buy a drink for a friend or flatmate certainly, there is no need though to spend all your money on rounds or taxis for people you may never see or speak to again!

Unpack fully as soon as you arrive

Unpack when you arrive. Some people arrive at university and have such a great time, it ends up taking them a month to furnish their room!

Unpacking can make your room more homely and settling for you and other people. Do it as soon as you arrive, then it’s done!

Check your emails regularly

Emails: Make sure you constantly check your university email when you arrive. There will be essential course material as well as important information, dates and welcoming tips.

Food prep

Bring some pre-prepped food, but make sure you have some basic idea of how to function in a kitchen! Learn to cook a few of your favourite meals before arriving at university.

If this means practising at home a bit before you begin, or buying some good cookbooks, then do it! 

students sitting on stairs outside university.

Photo by Buro Millennial from Pexels

University is going to be great, just go feeling prepared to give yourself the best possible start!

If you feel these tips for starting university could benefit anyone you know, please share this post with them!

Written by Archie Everad

9 tips for working part time during university

In this post, we are going to share top tips on working part time during university. 

Recent stats show that 79% of students worry about money and only 38% say that Student Finance stretches far enough (Student Money Survey 2019). This means that 3 in 4 students now have a part-time job while studying. 

So I know what you’re thinking…

How on earth am I meant to get by at University living on such a tight budget? 

AND 

How do I balance a part-time job with university work? 

Well, if managed carefully, it’s possible to work hard, work part-time and still go out and have fun with your mates.

9 tips for working part-time during university

First thing’s first, let’s set out a few ground rules before you start thinking about what job you should get.

1) Improve your time management skills

Balancing part time work and university work is key.

How much of your day is spent procrastinating when it could be used more efficiently? According to YouGov, the answer to this is 218 minutes, which amasses to a whopping 55 days of procrastinating a year!

graphic for working part time during university - a clock on a desk

Photo by JESHOOTS.com from Pexels

I’m guilty of spending far too much time swiping through social media when I should really be doing something else. Be more productive with your time! Instil a structure in your day to ensure that you can get everything done.

Tips for managing your time at university

  • Plan your academic work schedule around your deadlines
  • Use the Pomodoro Technique 
  • Write daily to-do lists 
  • Find a dedicated study space
  • Understand what type of learner you are and “study smart” 
  • Focus on your long-term goals to keep you motivated
  • Get help from your lecturers when you need it  
  • Study throughout the term, rather than cramming last minute  

2) Manage your weekly budget effectively

Calculate your living costs to determine how much you need. According to the Guardian, maintenance loans are leaving students £265 short each month. 

Work out what you spend each week and how much of this is covered by your student loan. 

Once you know that, you can work out the difference and start thinking about how you’re going to make it up.

Managing your finances well will put less financial pressure on you whilst studying. It may even allow you to reduce the number of hours you have to work. This will give you more time to spend on your coursework.  

➡️Read: Money saving tips for university students

3) Work no more than 15 hours a week

Any more than 15 extra hours of work a week might start to have an impact on your university work. 

This is definitely not worth the risk, as the whole reason you came to University was to get a good degree, right? 

Putting in boundaries will help you to balance your uni work, social life and your part time job. 

4) Don’t miss lectures

This leads me on to my next tip: Don’t work on shifts that mean you miss your lectures. 

Your studies should always be your number 1 priority. 

Missing a few lectures might not seem like a big deal, but you could miss crucial information about your coursework or exams. 

If you absolutely have to miss a lecture, ask a friend to record the lecture and dedicate some time to catch up. 

Lecturer teaching in a lecture hall

Photo by ICSA from Pexels 

5) Know your deadlines! 

Make sure you’re ready to clear your schedule once deadlines are approaching. 

There’s nothing worse than having a 9 am deadline to work for when you’ve forgotten you’ve got a late-night bar shift as well.

All night-ers are famously heralded by uni students as their go-to for deadlines but you don’t want to make a habit of it.

Now, using the guidelines set in the first bullet points, how about we go and discuss what jobs you can actually do whilst at University.

6) Work for your University- Student Union/Jobs on Campus

Look for roles specifically hiring university students, such as working for the Student Union, or working at your college shop, bar or cafe.

Universities always want work to come first so they will be very flexible with their shifts. And on top of that, you can hang out with your mates while working behind the bar!

Most universities have a student “job shop” so you can have a peruse around there and see if there’s anything you fancy. 

If you’re passionate about your campus, why not be a campus tour guide? This will give you great public speaking practise that will look good on your CV.

Any experience you gain here will also help you stand out from other grads and develop the soft skills that employers are looking for along with your academic credentials.

You could also be a student ambassador where you go and speak to schools to give them an introduction into what life is like at your university. 

You can even get a job calling up university alumni and asking for donations. This is well paid and evening based.  

Extra-Curricular 

Additionally, look for extra-curricular work you can do that might not be paid but would look great on your CV. Volunteering and getting involved in events and activities organised by your student union or the clubs and societies at university offer great opportunities to develop vital skills for the workplace. 

You could also get involved with writing for the student newspaper, hosting a student radio show or promoting membership of the student union.

The founder of graduate coach, Chris Davies, spent University running student union activities and eventually ended up being elected to become the first-ever Student representative on the Board of Governors at his university. 

This taught him invaluable people skills and gave him experience in leading teams and projects. These skills really made his CV stand out and resulted in him becoming the first non-Oxbridge graduate at the advertising agency, J-Walter Thompson.

Essentially, getting involved in as many societies, sports teams and committees as you can give you something to talk about that isn’t solely academia related when you start interviewing after university. 

7) Work flexible roles during term time

Hospitality 

The key is finding a part time job that has a flexible approach to hours and is used to employing lots of students. This might be bar or barista work or working at a restaurant. 

Why not just drop into a few local pubs and see if they’re looking for any more staff? This might be especially relevant around Christmas time when they’re always going to be at their busiest. 

You could also work as a sales associate in retail. The key is that it’s shift work and therefore allows you to opt-in and out as and when you need. 

There are now also apps designed solely for getting work for uni students. Stint launched in 2018 with the idea of instantly connecting employers with an extra pair of hands. These roles are perfectly tailor-made for students as you really can pick and choose when you want to work and you only commit to a shift at a time.

Promote Student Nights

If you’re a very outgoing and sociable person, why not do promotional work for student nights. This normally works by getting a bit of commission per person you get into the club. This is an easy earner and can often just involve adding a bunch of mates to a Facebook page.

Translation Jobs

How about putting your language skills to use? There are plenty of companies offering freelance translation jobs and this would be a great way for those of you that are language students to really practise your skills in the real world and earn money while doing it.

Be an entrepreneur

Uni is a great time to get creative and use that entrepreneurial spirit within you! I started selling vintage clothes online while I was studying (cliche I know!) but you can always use sites such as Depop, MusicMagpie, eBay or Gumtree to start selling items online and earn some extra cash that way.

It’ll be good to show employers you can think outside the box as not many other graduates will be able to evidence this at interviews.

➡️Read: A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing your First Business

8) Get a part time job over Summer 

Summer holidays last forever at University. Sometimes you can finish your last exam in May and not return until the end of September. 

This gives you ample time to ramp up your savings (or wipe off your debt!) for the following year without that constant feeling of guilt that you should be in the library as when working during term time. 

And remember, working doesn’t have to be boring. You could work at festivals, resorts, clubs and all sorts of places in the Summer that you might find tricky to do once the 9-5 grind of adult life kicks in post-University

9) Get some work experience!

One regret of mine is that I never took the time to get some good quality work experience over the holidays. 

It’s often very difficult to work out what area you want to work in once you’ve graduated, but if you get some experience, it will help give you some valuable insights into what you like and what you don’t like as well as put you ahead of other graduates in similar positions when applying for full time jobs after university. 

For example, spring weeks give you a brief induction into what it’s like in your chosen sector. 

These are very common in the financial world. Most of the top investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, offer these.

You can also do insight weeks in insurance (insight week at Lloyds), management consultancy, accountancy or in whatever your chosen field is. PwC offers insight weeks for both consultancy and accountancy.

If you fancy diving deeper, getting a summer internship in one of these industries will prove invaluable on your CV.

Certain companies employ the majority of their grads from those who have already interned with them previously. You’ll also build up great connections which will be very useful once you’ve graduated from University.

And that doesn’t just apply to those of you looking for a career in finance, there are many marketing, retail and sales internships you can do too.

Added bonus: internships are now very often paid! So you can be both learning and earning at once. 

Networking on Linkedin is a great way to meet people and build useful connections that could lead to internships. 

Brand Ambassador

You could also work as a brand ambassador. This could involve tasks such as raising the profile of the brand you work for on social media or attending events and festivals to help with brand promotion. This is especially useful if you’d like to end up in marketing, PR or sales.

Beware though, only get on board if they are willing to pay you minimum wage. Often companies will try and entice you in by offering you lots of perks and freebies without actually paying you a proper wage. This is their way of getting some very cheap labour! 

Red Bull have a student marketeer program where you’ll be responsible for driving and promoting the brand image regionally. 

They offer students flexible hours and provide them with a fun way to increase their sales experience and manage the Red Bull brand. 

You can work at exciting Red Bull events and really engage with customers and help boost your communication skills.

This will give you a great experience and really help when applying for jobs marketing or PR after University.

Volunteering 

If you don’t fancy interning in the corporate world and want to do something a bit outside the box, you could also volunteer abroad.  You could teach English to local children and adults, set up new projects, carry out research, or assist with poverty alleviation programmes. All these will really help make your CV stand out once you’ve graduated!

Summary: Tips for working part time during university

So there you have it, working part time during University isn’t too tricky after all! Furthermore, there are plenty of roles out there!

Look for jobs that will provide you with relevant experience and make you more employable post-university. 

Make sure that the hours are flexible, you organise your time efficiently and you don’t work too much!

Asides from earning money, working part time during university will help you to build a strong work ethic and boost your employability. 

Written by Ollie Jenne

7 Money saving tips for university students

Struggling to manage your money as a student? University life can be difficult if you’re having difficulties managing your student budget. We are here to help! Here are our best money saving tips for university students!

Taking charge of your student finances

For many, university is the first time that they take full responsibility for their finances and spending.

According to Save The Student, up to 77% of students start university without being taught how to organise their funds.

Getting used to student budgeting can involve trial and error to learn your own way of handling cash. That’s why we’ve put together this guide outlining the best money saving tips for university students. 

Saving money sounds tedious, but it can help you develop lifelong skills which will prove invaluable in the future. 

Furthermore, it is about having the best possible experience at university, without letting it be ruined by finances. 

It is worth recognising, especially as a former student, that laziness is prevalent at university.

Therefore all of the following has been selected to be as undemanding as possible!

#1. Get the right student bank account for you

If you haven’t got a Monzo card, consider getting one! They are free to apply for, so there is no reason not to. If you already have one, then discover further what good they can offer. 

A Monzo is a prepaid card, so you can deposit money at the beginning of the week/month.

Monzo is a great way to stop you using your bank card, and an excellent way to track your spending.

Actionable student bank account tips

  • Organise your bills with those you live with.
  • Get a full list of what and where you’ve spent money on. The mobile app automatically sorts your spending into categories like groceries, eating out and bills. This can be good for tracking how much you’ve spent on nights out.
  • Activate features such as the “Round up transactions” pot. This feature can help you to preserve and save your spare change. 

Student bank account benefits

There are several student bank account options available in the UK. It is important to compare the best bank accounts before making a decision.

Here are some benefits of having a student bank account:

  • They are specially designed for the needs of students.
  • Many of them come with an interest-free overdraft.
  • Most student bank accounts come with other perks such as discounts and free gifts.
  • Some student bank accounts will allow you to pay off your overdraft once you have graduated.

If you are considering getting a credit card there are several available for students. Research thoroughly which one is best for you and seek professional financial advice from your bank. 

➡️ Compare Student Credit Cards

We all know that university, aside from getting a good degree, is a time to have fun and make friends.

This advice doesn’t want to stop that! Hopefully, it will help you to manage your student bank account. Doing so will help you to enjoy your social life whilst staying on top of your financial obligations!

#2. Save money with recognised student discount cards

As a student, whether it is buying food or travelling, you should never be spending more than necessary.

There are a few notable student cards which will undoubtedly save you money in the long run: 

  • Totum Student Card: The Totum card is the evolved and latest version of the NUS Extra Card (National Union of Students). It’s designed to provide a student with a cheaper lifestyle.
     

Many big high street names will offer you up to 20% discount and it can even be used as ID, no more losing your driving license! A one-year membership costs £14.99.

  • 16-25 Railcard: Train tickets can be expensive and if bought regularly the expenditure can stack up.

    For a £30 outlay, you can save a whole third from the original ticket price which will make a considerable difference over an academic year.
  • Beyond just what a discount card can get you, be looking for a student discount everywhere else as well! 

#3. Make your food shop efficient and worthwhile

It will always be tempting to order a takeaway at university, as it has become so easy, with the number of apps available.

Fresh Student Living estimate there has been a 73% surge in the number of home delivery takeaways through smartphone-based delivery companies. 

Whilst this is certainly an easy option, it is expensive and often unhealthy. 

Whilst one of the simplest money-saving tips for university students, bulk shopping and home cooking is much more cost-effective and longer-lasting. 

Don’t know where to start? 

  • MOB Kitchen is a much admired and trending online food channel with book publications, recipe suggestions and plenty of videos. What’s better is everything they do is aimed at the student crowd!
  • Another collection of student cookbooks, Nosh is an introductory guide to the kitchen for those with little or no experience. They contain simple, easy-to-follow meals which can show you how to cook in bulk.
  • It is worth taking time to think where it’s easy to spend money, without noticing it. This is because it could accumulate over time

    Buying a daily meal deal at the cost of £3 five days a week could set you back up to £60 a month! Or spending money on a coffee at Starbucks nearly every day will easily cost over £10 a week. Cutting these down for cheaper alternatives and treating yourself here and there will save you A LOT of money!
Groceries in a shopping trolly

#4. Get a part-time job

Money-saving goes far beyond just simple budgeting. It is possible to live only on your student loan and maintenance grant from the government, but you will have to be strict with yourself.

Whilst it doesn’t sound overly glamorous, working even just a few days a month can line your pockets without having to worry about your budgeting quite so much. 

Saving money as a student isn’t just about finding ways of spending less! If you’re working, you aren’t spending. You also could be taking onboard invaluable experience to take forth into the working world. 

You might be wondering “Where do I get a job?”. There will be far more options than you might expect, from working for your university, or for a restaurant or hotel in the area. Equally worthwhile, find employment that can use your personal skills. This could be playing an instrument in demand, photography at events or being an extra for television. 

Working part-time during the holidays can also allow you to return to university in a stronger financial position, be it as paid work experience or any sort of local business closer to home. 

#5. Making sure you are paying the cheapest bills possible

When you first move into a house with your friends, you are no longer getting free utilities like your student accommodation.

Not much attention is often given to house expenses (unless all utilities are covered in the rent of course!).

Actionable tips for saving money on your bills

  • Make sure you aren’t paying council tax: Any full-time student is completely exempt from this!
  • TV License: With the availability of Netflix, Amazon Prime and NowTV is there even any need to have daytime television or use the BBC iPlayer?

    A TV license is an £157.50 annual fee which when split between several people isn’t that much. Also, according to moneysavingexpert.com, if your parents have a TV License and you live with them outside of term time, you technically don’t need one!

    But you must watch content requiring a license on a device not connected to an aerial.
  • Make sure you are doing business with the cheapest energy provider: Possibly one of the most boring parts of being a student is dealing with your utilities bill.

    This is covering such essentials as electricity, water and heating. When you arrive in your house this is all provided by a company already.

    New players Look After My Bills provide a completely free service which will auto-switch you to the cheapest and best provider of energy!

    On the other hand it is worth doing a small bit of trawling online to see how much your bills are costing compared to other companies. 

Something else outside of your house worth noting…|

  • Job Tax: If you get an aforementioned part-time job at university and earn less than £12,500 a year which, as temporary work, would be likely you are not obligated to pay a penny of tax! So make sure you claim back anything you are owed.
  • Concerning your mobile phone, speak to your provider as a student to see if you are getting the best deal possible. Customer service has the power to offer a better deal. 
Money saving tips for university students - student managing finances and bills online

#6. Saving through technology

Luckily the current university student generation is fairly tech-savvy. As a result none should have a problem utilising the following money-saving tip for university students:

  • Books: Before starting university you are often given a reading list. Check to see which ones are required.

    If you have no luck online, see if your library has them or see if any second or third years are selling their old textbooks.

  • Amazon Prime: You can get free Prime for 6 MONTHS as a student, what is there to lose?

  • Spotify: You can save 50% with Spotify at only £4.99 a month whilst you’re a student. One could argue a shrewd investment.

  • Microsoft Office: A student at university can save a large chunk of money by securing Microsoft Office for free.

  • Hold App: Struggling to work because of your phone? This handy app will reward you points every 20 minutes for NOT using your phone between the hours of 7am to 11pm.

    You can trade these points at a huge number of brands including Vue, Amazon and Caffè Nero. A great money-saving incentive and will allow you to get some work done.

  • Sweatcoin: Similar to Hold in that it gives you credits with brands which will allow you to save money.

    It quite literally rewards you for walking about outside, aiming to promote a healthy lifestyle. It has to be always running on your phone, but can do so on a battery saving mode. Why not try it?

  • Depop: Instead of spending a fortune on every item of new clothing, why not scope out what is available on Depop?

#7. Money saving tips for university students going out

This is what most people look forward to when arriving at university!

Luckily, a lot of student nights already come with discounts on things like entry and drinks, but we tried to find a few ways which can help:

  • Pre-Drinking: A basic and quickly established principle, if you’re planning a big night out save money through buying your alcohol from a supermarket or local shop. It is as you might expect infinitely cheaper than drinking out and about instead.

  • Learning to live with FOMO (fear of missing out): You can’t go out every night, even though in your first year of university some people manage it. Sometimes save your money for the next one, be mint not skint!

  • Taxi: After a night out it is always tempting to grab a taxi home. If you do this then share the cab, or find which local taxi services provide the best deals.

  • FIXR App: One of the best ticket providers for student nights out, an event usually sells early release tickets at a discounted price. 

Summary: Money saving tips for university students

Having already been through university we can stand by the student money management tips above and trust it will serve you. 

Saving money requires discipline and we’ll all occasionally take a day off! Just aim to reward yourself on that odd day when you know you truly deserve it. 

Remember university is about having the best time possible (and getting that degree), so don’t think that money is something that will diminish the experience. It is a part of it and if you enforce some simple saving methods it’ll be a smooth ride! 

Check out how to Enjoy university in another one of our blogs to couple up with this one, and our networking tips which will help you with your job hunting preparation! If you enjoyed this article and know anyone it may help then please share it using the below.

How to Study at Home Effectively [7 Step Guide]

If you are someone who has often wondered how people are able to study effectively at home surrounded by its wide and varied opportunities for distraction, then here are some useful tips to try and become a skilled home worker.

The number of people studying from home has certainly never been higher. The COVID-19 lockdown means a prolonged period cooped up indoors.

For those of us who struggle with working at home and who sought their productive study haven in a silent library or a bustling café, this presents a problem.

Learning to study from home as effectively as possible is great preparation for the 21st-century workplace where WFH (Working From Home) was already a distinctive feature. Post lockdown, WFH is set to be the new norm.

#1: Finding Your Space to Study Effectively

Choosing a good study space within the home is a good place to start. Whilst the temptation may be to lie in bed and work in a world of comfort, it is far better to be sat upright with a flat surface in front of you, such as a desk or dining table.

As luxurious as it sounds, working in front of the television is also not a smart idea. 

A lack of natural light can often be a problem when you’re sat facing a screen all day, so positioning yourself near a window can reduce the strain on your eyes and leave you feeling less tired.

Make sure your study space is neat and tidy enough for you to organise your books and notes.

For those that would normally be found working studiously in the library then a spot with peace and quiet will be the optimum setting in which to study.

Not everyone likes to work in such sedate surroundings though, so if you are the type to linger in the background of a busy coffee shop, then replicate the atmosphere with some subdued background instrumental music.

Gathering around a table with your housemates for a communal study session is not a good idea but a joint study session with someone on your course via Zoom or Skype is a great way to keep up your focus and motivation.

#2: Create a Routine

Revision timetable and pens

 Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Procrastination is not your friend. Don’t fall into the trap of getting up late and dithering around.

Spending a small amount of time compiling a study timetable makes life a lot easier. Plan in time for treats – a favourite tv show, talking to friends – as well as time for work.

Setting yourself some specific objectives to complete at the start of each day can also help to give each day feel unique. Being able to tick off what you have done will also give you a feeling of accomplishment, and this can help you manage your time.

#3: Stick to Your Working Habits

Try to avoid getting into bad habits.

If you know you are someone that works best in the morning then make sure you get up early.

There are conflicting theories on whether background music is harmful or beneficial to your studies; one thing for certain is that the habit is widespread.

The discussion over the consequence of playing music whilst doing your work covers everything from the particular genre of music to the volume it is being played and, crucially, whether there are lyrics.

The BBC recently explored both sides of the argument but every student is different. It is important to be honest with yourself about whether music is a help or a hindrance.

Not everyone works in the same manner. Being an ‘early bird’ is not necessarily better than being a ‘night owl.’

Although some studies may warn against working in the early hours, for some people working under the moonlight is their most effective way of studying.

As long as you are getting a decent amount of sleep and avoid becoming sleep deprived, night working can be a way of avoiding a busy home environment – particularly if you have had to surrender the privacy of your student room as a result of COVID-19 to return home to a house filled with noisy younger siblings.

By all means, work in clothes that you feel comfortable in but, if you are trying to study in your dressing gown or pyjamas, then it might prevent you from getting into the correct work mindset.

Maybe by wearing something you would actually wear to your lecture or seminar, it will make you feel more professional. Wearing comfy clothes during your time off will also help to create a clear distinction between work and play.

#4 How to beat distractions

When it comes to studying effectively, your phone can become your own worst enemy.

If you are someone who too often succumbs to the temptation of going onto social media or messaging your friends then you need to work out how best to stop the lure of your phone.

For some people turning your phone off and putting it somewhere out of near sight in another room is an effective enough method to stop it from getting in the way of your studying.

Since the discussion around our digital health came more into prominence in recent years there has been an increase in applications which actually aim to keep you away from your phone.

Apps such as Forest reward you for not checking your phone constantly by growing virtual trees which eventually lead to the planting of genuine real trees in environments badly in need of them.

  • Temporarily deleting certain apps so that you are less drawn to your phone
  • You can temporarily disable social media accounts
  • Work somewhere with no TV or Radio in the background
  • Ask the people you live with or your siblings not to disturb you
  • Try to use your distractions as something to treat yourself with during your break
  • Eat only during your specified breaks, food can be a distraction

#5 Stay in Touch

Although you may be physically cut off from university during Lockdown, remember that your university will have a plethora of online resources to keep you in touch with your studies.

Your university library will be accessible online and many libraries and other organisations across the country are opening up their resources during the COVID-19 crisis.

If you are struggling with a topic or losing motivation, you should still be able to contact your tutor by email or participate in online study groups with friends.

If you start to struggle with your Mental Health during the lockdown, don’t hesitate to contact Student Support Services or the Student Medical Centre as they will still be there to help.

Information on how to alleviate the strain on your mental health during this period can be found here.

A more student-specific range of resources on this subject can be found on the Graduate Coach.

#6 Keep Yourself Healthy

person tying their laces

(Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels)

When your brain is being stretched to limit the from studying it is important to give it as much nutritional support as possible.

Make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks in the fridge and stick to three meals a day. If you are at home, try to make lunch or dinner a family meal.

The Guardian printed their version of the ideal studying diet to follow, but just eating healthy snacks is not going to suddenly improve your ability to study effectively if you are not doing a decent amount of exercise each week.

Aerobic exercise is said to improve the ability of your brain to learn and store new information, so even if you are only allowed out of the house to exercise once a day at present you should make sure it is to exercise.

Masters Studies suggests intertwining your work and exercise.

Caffeine can be a saviour for some people but repeatedly drinking copious amounts of energy drinks or coffee is best to be avoided. You don’t want to be lying awake in bed all night with sleep-deprivation.

Ensuring you get at least the recommended eight hours of sleep a day is crucially important to maintaining your ability to study.

Being able to nod off easily does not come naturally to everyone and so the Graduate Coach has outlined a few methods to improve your ability to sleep.

#7 Give Yourself Breaks 

Giving yourself proper study breaks is as important as the work itself.

Switching between topics or moving from note-making to listening to podcasts can help to combat monotony.

Even if you are the type of person who likes to power through your work for hours on end, your studying will be more effective if you interleave study activities and better still if you take regular breaks.

Exercising can be very beneficial to your studies, especially when you’ve been sat at a desk all day. Lockdown gives you a maximum of one hour of outdoor exercise. This means you need to plan to take full advantage of the exercise time to ensure that you get plenty of fresh air.

Going for a walk/dog walk is a good way to use your break and it won’t leave you completely worn out.

The worst thing you can do during long periods of studying is to become a complete recluse and hardly be seen out of your room for a few weeks. Social interaction during your breaks will benefit you mentally and leave you to feel less isolated.

More information on how your study breaks can help your learning can be found here.

Summary: How to Study at Home Effectively

Studying during lockdown is different from studying at university but it requires the same determination and self-discipline.

Set yourself realistic goals and stick at it!

Fundraising Ideas for University Societies

Often, fundraising is a core activity of university societies or sports clubs, whether for equipment, tours or even charitable ventures. However, there are a myriad of ways to make the money you need. 

In this guide, we will share 6 key fundraising ideas for university societies. If you plan well, you can put on an incredible campaign that not only raises money, but strengthens your community and increases your membership.

Furthermore, fundraising can offer you some hard skills that you can apply to your CV which employers will recognise over the competition when applying for your career of choice.

Set, Define and Understand your Goals

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It’s easy enough to say that having more money is generally desirable. However, you need to ask yourself what you want this money for. 

Is it for:

  • A specific event you want to put on for your members later this term?
  • Equipment your society needs?
  • A charity you feel strongly about?
  • A mix of factors?

Depending on the scope of your society, these factors can change. 

After all, the needs of societies like Model United Nations, Scuba diving, or Board Games differ tremendously.

If you want to see whether you have a good grasp of your goals, ask yourself these questions (if your answers aren’t great, you may need to go back to the drawing board):

What are you fundraising for?

Will it be obvious and worthwhile for those donating to your cause? You don’t want to mislead people,

If it’s a charity, have you contacted them and got their consent?

  • Why do you care? Why is it important for the society? If this is clear to you, you should make it clear to those who will give you money.
  • How much money do you want to raise and by what time? Is it realistic, or even needed?
  • Are your other society members up for helping, and would they all clearly understand what they’re fundraising for? If your friends helped, would it be the same?

You must have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve and that this is something others can clearly understand and get behind.

Ambitious fundraising efforts take a lot of commitment and energy to achieve; if your goals aren’t clear disappointment and wasted hours will almost be inevitable.

However, if you have clear goals and execute it well, it can be extremely rewarding beyond just making money.

Ways to Fundraise for your university society

Ultimately, with application of a little imagination, there are many ways to fundraise.

However, all offer advantages and disadvantages. Here are some fundraising ideas for university societies – have a think about which fundraising tips best fit your approach:

#1: Write a funding application to your Students’ Union.

Most Students’ Unions (SUs) with a large society base will offer the opportunity for societies to apply for funds for whatever activity or needs they may have.

While I was at university as a society representative, I reviewed hundreds of funding applications from societies, in which we had an annual ‘pot’ around £30,000 to allocate.

We often gave money to societies if it was obvious that: their goals were clear and the potential results were attainable, the results would impact a notable number of students relative to the size and scope of the society, and it was well planned.

If any of these were unclear, we would frequently ask for the application to be revised, or outright rejected. Check out the Sheffield SU’s funding application to get an idea: 

#2: Your SU may have Reward Schemes.

Some SUs will have a rewards scheme. By achieving certain tasks, your SU could award you with sums of money that you can passively accumulate throughout the year.

In my society, we accumulated £400 passively throughout the year by achieving various tasks. It may not be enough for your overall fundraising goal, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Check out your SU’s website and see what’s on offer. An example of such a scheme is the University of Sussex SU’s scheme.

#3. Set up some sales events 

Here are some ideas to play with…:

  •  Arts and Crafts Fair – If you have artistic skills, sell your works of art on campus or a fair.
  • Auction a Promise – Hold an auction night where students bid for promises such as washing up or cooking meals for a month, that is, for a price.
  •  Bake Sale – Cook some food, whether sweet or savoury and sell on campus. Personally, choosing the right location and time of day often dictated success, often ranging from £75 on a quiet day or up to £200 if well planned.
  • Hoodie/T-Shirt Sales – Reward your loyal members by offering them the opportunity to buy bespoke society clothing.
  • Raffle – Talk to local businesses and see if they may be willing to donate a few prizes to your cause. Then set up a team of volunteers to start selling raffle tickets.
  • Set up a car wash station   Wash students and staff member’s cars. 
  • Sports competition – Set up some sporting events and ask each team member to get sponsors or to donate some money to your cause. 

#4.  Social Events:

  • Club Night/Live Music Event – Contact your university bar, book out a night, organize a DJ or local band to perform. Raise cash either online, on the door, or on the bar.
  • Pub Quiz – A personal favourite of mine. Contact your local/university pub and book a pub quiz night. Charge £1 – 3 to join the pub quiz and give small rewards to the winning teams.
  • Karaoke Night – Never underestimate the willingness of people to publicly humiliate themselves and pay for it. Planning is largely like organizing a pub quiz or club night.
  • Joint Fundraising – Network with other like-minded (or not!) societies and clubs to put on a special event. I.e., Rugby Club and Pole Dance society swap activities for a charitable cause!
  • Speakers: Host a notable speaker relevant to your society’s interests and sell tickets in advance or on the door. Be careful, however, to not mark the price up too much and deter people from attending.
  • Flash Mob: Plan a spontaneous and wacky event at university to draw some attention. Ask students to donate a few pounds to raise funds and shake a bucket at puzzled passers-by.

#5.  Challenges:

  • Bake Competition: Put your friends and society members culinary skills against one another and award the star baker! Similar to a bake sale but charge a small entry fee for contestants.
  • Personal Challenges: This could consist of working in a team, or by yourself, whether climbing Kilimanjaro, driving to Mongolia, or cycling London to Paris. These are often associated with organisations and will ask for you to raise money on behalf of your activity. These are great for charitable ventures.
  • Sports Tournament: Organize a sports tournament, whether with alumni, society members or event staff for an afternoon of friendly competition!

#6. Be Imaginative!

While these are some ideas, there’s absolutely no harm in trying something different. For example, for a political event we wanted to fund, a group of us dressed as political party leaders of the country and offered, for a small fee, for people to throw water balloons at their least favourite political leader!

Students are used to being bombarded with sales and events – make yours unique and standout. Further, they can offer incredible networking opportunities you can foster throughout university; you can read more on the benefits here.

Plan your Campaign and Events

Fundraising Ideas for University Societies

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Like the rest of your society activities, the more you plan, the more you’ll reap the rewards. Here are some key tips:

  • Plan well in advance. This may be critical if you’re booking a venue space.
  • Make an event plan – what will need to happen on the day?
  • Can any of the necessary resources be loaned or provided for free? Say the Students’ Union, or friends?
  • Write up a budget– you want to be sure that you don’t stumble on hidden costs and undermine your fundraising efforts.
  • Who is leading the fundraising, and who will be helping? Will they be reliable?
  • Marketing – Promote your fundraising events as much as possible. Whether online, posters or spread of word, make sure that you get it known to as many people as possible. Social media and friends will carry you a long way.

Fundraising can be More than just Money!

Fundraising does not need to be just a financial venture. While it may be important, the opportunity to put on exciting events can provide other significant benefits.

For example, you can advertise to students the exciting events your society puts on, how great a community your society fosters, and promote greater involvement and commitment from your members.

Fundraising events offer an incredible opportunity to capture new audiences, reinforce existing members’ loyalty and raise the reputation of the society. 

If possible, hosting fundraising events that engage as many people as possible to get involved are fantastic.

For example, in my former society, we ran a pub quiz series throughout the year, regularly engaging a hundred or so people. Pub goers could find out about our activities, while society members had it as a regular function.

Summary: Fundraising ideas for university societies

What sort of campaign or fundraising event can often be dictated by what sort of society or sports club you run, and it is important to recognise what works for you.

If you follow these steps, you’ll be sure to run a successful fundraising campaign, build some hard skills to apply to your CV(indeed, you can read further on Why Your Non-Academic Experience is Your Most Valuable Asset), and most importantly, find it a personally rewarding experience! 

Thanks for taking the time to read our post sharing fundraising ideas for university societies!