How to be a Student: A Guide for Beginners

If you’re starting at a university this autumn, you’re facing one of the greatest changes to your life you’ll ever experience. It’s a time in your life when you get an unprecedented opportunity to set your own rules and boundaries, but that independence comes with responsibility. You need to build a life that keeps you happy, and that lets you keep up with your academic responsibilities or you’ll find your university life coming to unceremonious end.

Today we’re looking at a few ways, whether you’re moving into Douglas Adams’s rooms at Cambridge or the brand new student housing Huddersfield, Leeds and many other towns are playing host to.


One of the first things you’ll notice is that there are loads of different people and organisations bidding for your time, and the library is only one of them. You need to find a balance: if you chase academic success to the exclusion of all else, you’re going to burn out and find you don’t have a safety net behind you. On the other hand, if you don’t put any time into the academic side of your life at all, you might find your university career coming to an ignominious end.

In the early days, find a balance. Start with academia, because that’s necessary: learn how much is expected of you each week and how long you’re going to be investing in each essay or project. You can structure the rest of your time around this, comfortably confident you’re not overstretching yourself.

Clubs, Societies, Friendships

You’d be missing out on some of the best things about university life if you just sit in the library and study. For one thing, you’ll find your student union hosts and supports dozens, if not hundreds of different clubs and societies, covering every aspect of life from sport to the performing arts, and cookery to investment!

Joining a society or two means finding a host of friends, and taking the chance to do things you’ve never been able to do before, whether that’s starring in a musical or hosting a conference that hundreds of people benefit from!

As well as the activities themselves, you also have the chance to help run those societies or the student union itself: this isn’t just fun, it’s a valuable boost to your CV that could give you the edge when you’re first looking for a job in a competitive field.

As long as you find a healthy balance, your student career could be more rewarding than you ever imagined before you started.