Coping With Change - Starting University

Written by Development Volunteer Rachel

Starting university is full of exciting new experiences, but it can also be challenging. It is important to take the time to look after yourself to help you cope with the changes in lifestyle.

Meeting new people

Being around so many other students creates a great opportunity to meet like-minded people. If you are finding it hard to meet new people, remember many other students will feel the same way. There are lots of ways to get involved - for example, you could:

  • Participate in course forums or social media groups. These are a great opportunity to get to know who you may be living or studying with before you start university, and they can help you to stay connected if you're studying online.

  • If you’re staying in university accommodation, leave your door open while you move in and introduce yourself to who you will be living with.

  • Joining clubs or societies can also be a great way to get to know people with similar interests to you, and to help you create a work-life balance. Lots of societies offer taster sessions at the beginning of the year so start thinking about what you may be interested in trying out and see what's on offer when you arrive.

Looking after your wellbeing

Student life often has lots going on, both academically and socially, and it can take a while to feel settled. However busy you are, it’s important to take time out for yourself and reflect on how you’re feeling. Phoning home, watching a film or going for a walk are some good ways to help you feel relaxed.


Learning at university is likely to be very different from what you experienced at school. You will have much more responsibility for your own study than you have been used to and, depending on your course, you may only have a few contact hours a week.

This is a big change to get used to and it may feel daunting at first. Planning ahead and creating a schedule to manage your workload can help with this, and universities have a range of support in place to help you improve your academic skills, including personal tutors and study skills sessions. These can be a great way of understanding some of the possible requirements from your new course, such as how to write a research proposal or reference other studies correctly.

As a result of coronavirus, you may have experienced disruption to your education. In these circumstances, it’s natural that you might feel underprepared for the next stage of study. Spending some time preparing for the year ahead will help to improve your confidence and ability to succeed when the academic year starts. Here are some ways you might start:

  • Work your way through a reading list. These may have been sent to you by your lecturers, or if not, you should be able to find recommended course reading on your university’s website.

  • Watch some online lectures or videos about your subject (from reputable sources, such as Coursera or OpenLearn).

  • Familiarise yourself with key terms and concepts.


Studying is likely to affect your personal finances. The money you receive and the way you get it may change. It is important to think about how you will pay for essentials like food, housing, tuition fees and course costs such as books and other equipment.

Regardless of your situation, it can be useful to create a weekly or termly budget plan to help you keep track of your incomings and outgoings.

Further information and advice

Student Minds - ‘Transition into University’ guide provides helpful information on navigating all aspects of university life.

Mind - ‘How to cope with student life’ explains how you can look after your mental health as a student, giving practical suggestions for what you can do and where you can go for support.

BBC - ‘Coronavirus: What's happening with university admissions?’ lists updates on university admissions this year, including information about fees and teaching.

South East and Central Essex Mind, 112a Southchurch Road

Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS1 2LX

Charity registration number 1148451