And you’re off! Five tips to a successful start at university

 

That’s it, you have arrived! Congratulations on securing a place at the University of Cumbria. We are delighted to welcome you as a new student.

You will probably be feeling very excited – and possibly nervous – about the start of this new experience. The next three to four weeks will be an opportunity for you to become familiar with your new surroundings, make new friends, settle into a new routine and, of course, make a start on your studies. Follow this helpful guide and get a head start. Although the campuses and your course are working slightly differently this semester, to keep everyone safe, there will still be plenty of opportunities to embrace the new experiences on offer.

1. Settle into university life

Get to know your campus! The sooner you become familiar with the campus environment, the sooner you will feel comfortable and confident about where to go for classes, the library, meeting friends, etc, so get to know your campus - have a walk around, familiarise yourself with the local area, local shops, and places to eat and drink – check out our Google maps of transport options. The campus will have clear signage to guide you in maintaining a healthy social distance from others not in your household. Please take the opportunity of your first couple of days on campus to find the buildings listed on your timetable.

Visit the local tourist information websites for Carlisle and Lancaster for useful information about settling into your new city.

If you are staying in halls of residence, you can personalise your room and make it as comfortable as you can – but don’t bring any candles! For more information on university accommodation, visit the accommodation FAQ page.

Consider how you will travel to and from campus, if you aren’t living in halls. The current UK Government guidance about transport and travel is at this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers.

Get involved: visit the university’s Student Life webpages for information about the local area and environment, activities and events. Whilst you will be focused on your studies, there are also plenty of opportunities to try new things and develop new interests. It’s important to develop your social network; your flatmates and fellow students will become a source of friendship and support throughout your time at university. Get involved and take part in the organised activities.

There will be a range of online activities and events taking place during Welcome Week and throughout the term organised by the Students’ Union. The Chaplaincy will also be planning a range of activities during the term. We have many sport and recreation facilities available on all campuses, with extra measures in place to maintain the safest possible environment.

2. Gather all the necessary information about your course

Ensure that you are ready for Registration (through VFairs, a virtual platform) and Welcome Week – the timetable for this is separate from your main teaching timetable.

Make sure you have your timetable for the first semester – this is available to you now at https://ttime.cumbria.ac.uk/Draft-Timetables_202021/. Get familiar with the campus layout and how to get to different buildings. There may be a one-way system in place – please observe this.

Have you reviewed the module descriptors, reading lists, assessment plans for your course and placement details? Do you know the names of your different module tutors? Do you know who your personal academic tutor is? If in doubt, ask other students on your course or ask a member of staff.

3. Sort important paperwork as soon as possible

Read the correspondence we have sent you and check that everything is in order. If you’re not sure, then please contact us. Requirements will be different depending on the course you have chosen. Take a look at the checklist to make sure you’ve got everything covered.

4. Strike a balance

During the first few weeks at university, you will probably focus on meeting new people through classes and Blackboard, our virtual learning environment, and generally familiarising yourself with your new environment and your course of study.

Although classes will be well underway, you may not yet feel fully engaged in the studying process. We recognise that new students, whatever their age and course, experience a period of adjustment. It is important to find a right balance between study and other commitments. This balance is even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic when personal contact has to be limited. Take opportunities to interact online and in person when you can, and don’t be shy to say if you are finding things a bit strange – you are not alone!

Juggling your commitments

For some students, the balance is about adapting to a new routine between university life and family commitments and/or paid employment. Make sure you plan in time to review your notes, visit the library online, complete your coursework as well as socialising and fitting in all your other activities.

Looking for a part-time job to boost your finances?

Part-time work is a fantastic way of increasing your current skills and experience in the workplace, as well as adding cash to your bank balance! It’s also a great way to get involved with the local community by working alongside and meeting new people - and perhaps creating useful contacts for your career after university. Check the careers section for more hints and tips.

Although there are many positive aspects of working whilst studying, please be aware that working long hours whilst studying can seriously affect your ability to meet all your course requirements. We recommend that you do not commit to more than 15 hours part-time work a week during term-time. If you are experiencing financial difficulties or finding it difficult to manage working and studying, contact us. 

Paying attention to your emotions

The start of university life is an exciting time, but it might take a little time to settle into the rhythm of university life. In your first few weeks you will experience different emotions and you may want to chat to someone about them. This is even more important during the current pandemic, which presents us all with real challenges.

The university can provide you with help and support, through the Students' Union, the Wellbeing Service and the Chaplaincy Service. All are there to support and guide you through your university life, but especially in the important first few weeks. 

5. Enjoy!

University is a unique experience that most students remember with great fondness over time. The friendships that develop at university often remain strong well beyond graduation day. So enjoy and appreciate your time at university. It is a time to explore new opportunities and develop in many areas of your life.

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