Published: 19 June 2019

Ten top tips for making the most of the summer before university

Learn how to make the most of your final few weeks of summers before starting university with our advice on how to successfully prepare for student life.

The school year is over and the summer holidays have begun. It’s time to relax, unwind and start thinking about the next chapter of your life: university!

From getting a head-start on your reading and packing your suitcase, through to travelling and volunteering for a worthwhile cause, there are plenty of ways to use your time during the summer in a productive (and fun!) way.

Keep reading to discover our ten top tips for making the most out of those final few weeks before starting university.

Top ten tips for preparing for university

1.  Practise your culinary skills

Get ready to fuel your studies (and impress your housemates!) by brushing up on your cooking skills over the summer. Even if you're not due to start university for another year, it's never too early to start. As good as it may sound, living off ready meals and takeaways for the next three to four years won’t be great for your health or your wallet. Plus, after a few months living away from home you’re guaranteed to miss your favourite home cooked meals!

Learn how to cook a selection of nutritious and delicious dishes over the summer and ask the best cook you know to teach you. Also, do a spot of cleaning and get well acquainted with the washing machine and iron. We’re sure that your family won’t have any complaints!

2.  Set a student budget

It’s never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to budget your money whilst at university. Living costs such as food, travel and entertainment will vary on an individual basis, so figure out a budget that is realistic for you so that you’re able to stick to it.

Once you start university, it’s good to know that our friendly and helpful Student Advisors in MySurrey Hive (our one-stop shop for student support) will be on hand to help you budget and assist with any financial problems or queries you may have.

3.  Get a head-start on your reading

Don’t let your passion for your subject dim over the long summer. Most degree programmes will provide you with a reading list - especially text-based subjects like English, Politics or Law - and summer is the perfect time to start exploring all that awaits you.

You may have already been emailed a list of texts covered in your first semester or a recommended reading list. If you want to do any background research, use our undergraduate course list to visit your programme page and re-discover your modules.

Bonus tip: Don’t feel you need to break the bank by buying every book on your reading list - our Library is home to a vast collection of print and electronic books, journals and other resources, ready for you when you arrive.

4.  Get to know your new flatmates/course mates

There’s always a buzz online from students excited to start university. Join our Facebook Offer Holder Group for new students on the same programme as you or one for your accommodation. Get involved in the conversation and you might find your future coursemates, flatmates and lifelong friends!

Also, be sure to follow Surrey’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and WeChat, and use the hashtag #SurreyMoments to share your excitement if you're joining us this year. Stay up to date in the lead up to Welcome Week, so you don’t miss out!

5.  Look at what societies and sports clubs are available

The university experience is about so much more than just lectures. Getting involved in a society or sports club is a fantastic way to have fun, discover new interests and make friends. Plus, it’ll look great on your CV!

Our Students’ Union is home to over 100 societies and there are over 40 Team Surrey sports clubs. With societies ranging from Law to Theatre, and sports on offer such as Surrey Surf Club, there truly is something for everyone. Read more about our societies on the Surrey Student Experience Blog.

You might also want to think about joining the gym (Surrey Sports Park has incredible facilities and offers discounted membership to Surrey students) or getting involved in another form of extracurricular activity - such as learning a new language with our Global Graduate Award scheme.

6.  Work out how you’re going to get around

With the autumn term fast approaching, you may want to consider your transport options. When moving to a new area, it’s a good idea to figure out how you’ll travel when you get there. Take a look at our campus map ahead of time. Will you walk, cycle or make use of public transport? Luckily, all three are great ideas at Surrey!

Our safe, self-contained lakeside campus is just ten minutes’ walk from Guildford town centre, and our Manor Park and Stag Hill campuses are a 15 minute walk apart. A frequent bus service between Guildford town centre and the University campuses runs late into the night. Cycling is also an excellent way to save money, keep fit and help the environment, so it’s well worth considering bringing your bike with you.

7.  Find work experience or volunteer

Over the summer you may find you have plenty of spare time on your hands. Gaining work experience or volunteering in an industry related to your degree will allow you to further explore your subject, develop transferable skills and gain a better idea of what you want to do after graduating.

Also, part-time work could allow you to make some extra money over the summer - which is always handy! Both work experience and volunteering will help you develop new skills, enhance your CV, meet new people and build your confidence.

Bonus tip: Give your CV a refresh before coming to university, as you may want to find a part-time job whilst you study.

8.  Start packing

For those of you joining us in September - when you start thinking about what to take with you to university you may be tempted to take anything and everything with you “just in case”. However, storage space will be limited and you may find your room bursting at the seams!

Pack essentials such as bedding, kitchen equipment, clothes, as well as all of your important documents and a few home comforts. Things like food and toiletries can always be purchased when you arrive. For more detail, take a look at our packing checklist to give you an idea of what to bring.

Bonus tip: Print the checklist and tick off each item as you go.

9.  Spend time with family and friends

For many students, university is their first experience living away from their loved ones. Surrey is sure to feel like a ‘home away from home’ in no time at all, but make sure to spend quality time with family and friends before making the move.

Arranging regular Skype or FaceTime calls will help keep homesickness at bay. It might also be worth considering how often you’ll want to visit home and how you’ll do so. Guildford has great transport links and is easily accessible – we’re on the direct railway line between London Waterloo and Portsmouth, adjacent to the A3 main road, and just a 35 minute drive from Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

10.  Relax and have fun!

One of the most important things to do over the summer is to relax, unwind and enjoy yourself! For those starting university this year, you'll have just finished exams and you deserve to have some fun and squeeze every last drop out of the summer, making sure that you’re refreshed and ready to dive back into your studies in September.

Take the opportunity to try new things or rediscover old interests; socialise or enjoy your own company; re-read your favourite books or binge-watch Netflix; travel to new places or spend quality time at home.

You’re bound to be full of excitement, anticipation and perhaps even nerves, but there’s no need to panic. You’ve got plenty of time to prepare, as well as a variety of support awaiting you when you arrive.


Discover more helpful advice for new students, including information on Welcome Week, via our Welcome to Surrey page, or explore the student experience at Surrey by reading real-life student profiles.

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