The first year of university life

University life is unpredictable, we know that no two experiences will ever be the same and students transition to university life in different ways.

At the University of Plymouth we understand the challenges students face at university. For students or a parent or supporter of a student, knowing the ebb and flow of the year should help you understand what might be happening at university and how you can best you can prepare.

August: you may be feeling

  • ! Excited
  • # Anxious
  • $ Positive
  • " Nervous

The biggest tip I can give to any new student is to learn how to cook a few staple meals – nobody wants to eat the same thing for a week like I did!

Anna, BA (Hons) Media Arts graduate


  • Get organised: start packing belongings and buying the essentials for university life.
  • Remind yourself of domestic skills such as cooking, cleaning, shopping and laundry.
  • Talk through any worries you may have.
  • We encourage students with health concerns to speak to their GP to ensure prescriptions can remain up to date (students can register at the University Medical Centre for GP services whilst away from home).
  • For more information visit our student life page.

September: think about

  • 3 Creating a sense of belonging
  • ' Creating a safe space in your new home to relax, socialise and study
  • u Building friendships
  • * Starting a budget

  • Bring some home comforts such as photographs and posters.
  • Consider how and how often you'll keep in touch with friends and family and how this might change throughout the year.
  • Get to know your fellow students by getting involved with volunteering, clubs and societies.
  • Remember that homesickness is very common. The Listening Post team are available to talk over any worries you may have.
  • Consider starting a focused budget for your first two weeks, the money you spend during fresher’s week can quickly add up. Budgeting advice is available from our Student Funding Team.
  • A part-time job can provide an extra source of income but can also help build friendships. Check the student jobs page for vacancies, advice and guidance.
  • Remember to take care of yourself. Ensure you're getting enough sleep, drinking enough water and eating healthily. 

The wide range of clubs and societies run at Plymouth were always fun and I would always recommend signing up to some in your first year – it doesn’t matter if you don’t stick to them, it’s just a great way to socialise with different people.

Annabel Brown, BEd (Hons) Primary (Early Childhood Studies) graduate


Check out
UPSU Fresher's Week events:

  • Fresher's Fair – grab some freebies!
  • Sports Fair
  • Societies Fair
  • Volunteering Fair
  • Social events

Semester 1: September – January

  • b Deadlines and feedback
  • ' Thinking about next year’s accommodation
  • . Preparing for January exams
  • A Self-doubt

  • Keep to-lists of all your deadlines.
  • Seek feedback about your academic work and learn from it. It takes time to adjust to higher education, it’s quite different to school and there’s much more expectation of independent study (i.e. working at home, researching and reading).
  • If you are unable to meet a deadline due to extenuating circumstances your faculty support office or personal tutor can help.
  • Do you need extra time, breaks or a private room for your exams? If so, ensure your modified assessment provisions (MAPS) are in place for your upcoming exams.

The lecturers have all been inspiring. They encourage questions and are happy to engage to ensure you have grasped the module and know how to get the most out of it. If I go to a lecturer or module lead with an assignment problem, I am encouraged and supported on how best to follow it through which helps to set my mind at rest and points me in the right direction for future assignments.

Joy O`Gorman, BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing student

  • Stay safe: Need-A-Cab operate the Safe Taxi Scheme. If you can’t afford a taxi home after a night out don't walk home alone, call Need-A-Cab, quote your student number and pay in the SU the following day.
  • Going to university is an exciting time where you are likely to experience new friendships and relationships. Whilst you are studying it is important that you take a positive and respectful approach your sexual health.
  • Speak up about any worries, support services can be found in the Student Services Hub.
  • Use ‘SHINE’ Self-help Inspiring e-Resources to help manage stress, relationships, academic issues, confidence and self-esteem, sleep, mental health, transitions and change.
  • Take advantage of the University sports and gym facilities. UPSU run Motivate Generate Activate offering discounted sports activities.
  • Agree any rent budgets and expectations early on to help choose suitable accommodation for the next year. 

Remember to relax over the vacation period.

Semester 2: January – May

  • I January blues
  • @ Easter vacation
  • Z Revision
  • . Summer exams

  • Exam timetables are published in February, allowing you plenty of time to prepare.
  • If you require extra time, your own room or breaks during exams make sure you have contacted the Disability Services team to get this in place.
  • Get organised and set up a revision or study schedule.
  • Stress from deadlines and upcoming exams is natural. Talk through any stress with friends, family, your personal tutor or engage with the Student Services Hub.
  • It’s not too late to ask for help. Talk any academic worries through with your personal tutor, particularly if you might need to repeat a module or apply for extenuating circumstances. 
  • Learning alongside other students on your course can give you a greater opportunity to broaden your knowledge, check out our Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme (PALS).
  • If you have overspent during the Christmas period, the Student Funding Unit offers free tips and advice on managing your money.
  • Keep channels of communication open with friends, family and your lecturers.
  • Enjoy the UPSU Summer Ball.

  • UPSU advice can support you with a variety of issues including academic, housing, finance and benefits.
  • Feeling alone at times is completely normal, many other students feel the same. Why not visit the S.P.A.C.E café for a free refreshment and some company.
  • Remember to look out for your friends. If you see a friend struggling direct them to our support services

The support systems in place at Plymouth are amazing. Between lecturers, personal tutors, and all other staff on campus, the help I received during hardship and times when I needed assistance academically was beyond what I expected when moving away from home for the first time. This is without doubt something that I have not experienced in other institutions.

Shannen Trout, LLB (Hons) Law graduate


July and summer vacation

  • < Summer plans
  • ! Excited
  • & Exam results
  • # Nervous
  • . Exam resits and referred coursework

If I were to start university again I would not be so hard on myself about my grades. I was working, volunteering, and studying and got out of university alive. Have fun, enjoy it, and take every day as it comes.

Jasmine Johnson, BA (Hons) English graduate

 

  • Think about what you want to do over the summer months – get a job, volunteer, see friends, take a break, travel? Talk through your plans to avoid any last minute decisions or regrets.
  • Exam results are published in July (depending on faculty) and a following appeals and resit timeline commences.
  • If your results are not as expected contact your personal tutor, programme leader or faculty support office for further advice on resits.
  • Remember that the University is open over the summer period, you will still be able to access support services.