1) Apply for student finance, before the course starts (not applicable to Degree Apprentices)

Below is a step by step of how to apply for student finance:

  • You need to make an application either over the phone or via the Gov.uk website
  • The application will ask for you to provide your parent’s contact and employment details and the details regarding where you will be living whilst studying. (you do not have to provide details if you are applying for the minimum maintenance loan and do not require extra)
  • Student Finance England will then contact your parents via phone or email, to find out information regarding their employment and salary information. From this information they will then calculate how much you are entitled to borrow.
  • After this, you will receive an entitlement letter and declaration form of how much the government will lend you. NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU SIGN THE DECLARATION AND SEND BACK IN THE POST. (as this can delay your finance if it’s not completed on time)
  • Once you have enrolled at your chosen university, Student Finance will contact them to ensure you are studying there and the payments can be confirmed. The money should then be in your account for when your course starts.
  • Make sure you apply for your student finance as soon as possible. This is because the process can be lengthy, as seen in the step by step guide above. The sooner you do it, the quicker it will reach your account, if not you could be waiting till October/November to get your loan.

Little extra tip: You can apply for student finance before you even get your place at university!! It just won't be 100% confirmed until you have enrolled at your university.

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2) Ensure you have the right materials for your studies

One of the most important materials for university, is a laptop or tablet. This is because, most of your seminars, lectures and reading materials are likely to be accessible through the internet. Also, a laptop is crucial when writing your assignments or studying for your exams. This is due to high volume of universities now having electronic submission boxes, it means that your assignments need to be typed and submitted over the internet. Many students also like to type notes in lectures and seminars, however this is your own preference and the old pen and paper method is still just as good for note taking.
If you are looking to buy a new laptop for September, here are some student offers.

If you buy an Apple Macbook or iPad Pro directly from the provider (Apple), students can get up to £270 off their laptop/tablet and free pair of Dr Dre Beat headphones worth £250. This is under the Apple education scheme. Make sure to sign up to Unidays with your student details, as this is how Apple determine if you’re a student or not. (Unidays also offer a lot of other student discounts, so is worth registering with the website). To find out more, visit the official Apple website.
Other laptop providers offer deals too via Unidays, with DELL offering 10% off, the Microsoft store offering 10% off, as well as HP having special offers for students.

Little extra tip: Around August and September time, companies tend to offer higher discounts. For example, last year HP offered 50% off to students!!!!!! So, don’t leave it too late!

A woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop in a café
Photo by Christin Hume / Unsplash

3) Student Oyster Card and Rail Card

Pearson College London and many other universities are located in Central London, so using the underground is likely to become the norm. Yet, public transport can be pricey, especially in peak commuting times. Therefore, it might be worth considering a student oyster card (18+). This is where you can get a third off weekly, monthly and yearly travelcards! This is good when travelling in peak times, as the travel card can be used as and when, no matter the time of day. TfL (who manage the Oyster card system) will contact your university to ensure that you are actually studying there and that you are eligible for the card So you won’t be able to get this until after you have enrolled on the course.

Little extra tip: Will you be 18 in your first year of university? And do you live in London? If so, you can still apply for 16+ oyster card for the first year. This is because you are technically not 18+ yet and you are still living and studying in London. This means you can get half price adult single tickets, and children priced travel cards (so you’ll save a lot more money than the 18+ oyster card).

Similarly, if you are travelling into London by train from surrounding areas, a railcard could come in handy. A 16-25 railcard gets you a ⅓ off train tickets, at any time of the day! The card has an upfront cost of £30 for a year, but if you are frequently getting the train to uni, you will make your money back in no time. You can save even more money by buying the railcard for 3 years at £70 to save £20.

Little extra tip: If you combine your 16-25 railcard and 18+ oyster card, you can also get a ⅓ off single journeys off - peak on the underground. You can combine your cards by asking any of the ticket machine staff at a London underground station.

Photo by Luke Stackpoole / Unsplash

4) Get to know people

Universities are known for their traditional freshers week. This is where they will put on a number of events to help to socialise with your future peers. These events tend to involve alcohol and partying. However, there are a number of events that are more “low key”, for instance during my freshers week we went to a trampoline park - which was really fun! Also, a lot of first year students set up big Facebook group chats, so you can see a few familiar faces on your first week or during in freshers. This is also great to be part of later in the year, as its a place to ask questions about exams, assignments or events happening at the uni.

An phone with the Facebook app open next to Scrabble pieces arranged in the words “social media”
Photo by William Iven / Unsplash

5) Extra reading

The main difference between A Levels and studying a degree is the vast amount of research you have to undertake for your work. And it's always good to be one step ahead. So it may be worth contacting your lecturers before you start the course to ask for the reading list, and begin reading before you start. I know it may sound a little mundane compared to exciting events like freshers, but it will help you tremendously in your studies. Most of our books at Pearson College London are electronic and are very accessible.

Photo by Thought Catalog / Unsplash

For more information on degrees available at Pearson College London, visit our website.