Five ways to make being a student easier
Right, some real talk. Despite what the Daily Mail and your weird uncle say, being a student ain’t that easy. Sure, there’s often the perception it’s all about going to class for an hour, then drinking till you're sick (and it’s kind of right) - but it’s not the whole story.
The reality is that Uni can be a major cause of stress. It’s your first time living away from home you're probably living with a load of strangers who don’t know how to look after themselves, and guess what - Uni work is hard, that’s why most people don’t go.
To make your life easier, here are five tips which should take the stress out of your time at Uni.
1) Get budgeting ASAP
The truth is, budgeting isn’t all sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. However, if you don’t do it you’re really risking the chance that you’re going to have to be sober/eat cold beans out of a can for weeks, depressed, whilst waiting for your student loan. Like seriously, it will take an hour of your life, and a little self discipline - and you will be set for the year.
So this is what you need to do:
- Add up all your income: This includes your student loan, any grants/scholarships, money from parents/Christmas etc, income from a job.
- Take off your essential outgoings: No, doesn’t include beer money and condoms - you crazy kids! We’re talking rent, bills, food, travel, tuition fees.
- What you have left - go crazy with. To have the best time possible, split your money out between the time you have left till your next loan instalment. This way there isn’t a time you’re truly skint - well… you’ll always be ‘student skint’, but you know what we mean.
2) Get your bills sorted
Dealing with bills is probably the first big ‘adult’ thing you’re going to have to tackle - and its a minefield as so much can go wrong.
You have to budget, make sure you can pay (and chase less organised/skint housemates) and then there’s the actual logistics of it all (there’s a lot of letters/different accounts/people paying off different things) and there’s the reality that you could be getting a much cheaper deal than you are paying - but switching providers is a faff.
Here’s a nifty trick, get someone else to do all the hard work for you. One Utility Bill is a company that will sort out all your bills for you. It’s spent a lot of time building relationships with the UK’s best providers to get you really great deals and tariffs. One Utility Bill will find you the cheapest electricity, gas, water and super quick broadband - will estimate how much its going to cost by comparing properties of a similar size to yours, whilst looking at regional trends/national averages.
It will also give you a budget and split the cost of your across the whole year which will avoid numb fingers and damp caused by cheap housemates refusing to put the heating on in Winter in order to save a couple of quid. And you can chill out because if you use less than what was initially estimated, they’ll let you know.
One Utility Bill will literally negotiate the best deals for you, split it between your housemates, you pay them and they sort it all out with your bill providers. Its going to make your life a hell of a lot easier.
3) Get a job/tap the bank of mum and dad
Your ‘income’ probably doesn’t cover your total costs. The Government gives you a loan based on what your parents earn, because they kind of expect them to help you out (although, you can’t force them). It’s obviously a tough conversation to have, but you should give it a go if you’re seriously struggling.
If you fancy being totally independent, or a bit of both, get a part-time job. It’s fair to say that most students have to get a part-time/weekend role to supplement their income. Check out union jobs in your uni, as these jobs will make sure you have enough time off for exams, and are generally more understanding of students needs.
Or, if a part-time role isn’t your thing, you could get a summer job. The thing with summer jobs, is that they can be super fun. Consider Camp America or even working for the Queen (check out our Ultimate guide) which means you get paid to have a laugh.
4) Get as many freebies that can help you pass as possible.
Janet Jackson said it best in the 90’s (remember then?), ‘The best things in life are free’. And there are a huge amount of resources out there (especially app-based) which are totally free, and can help you at Uni.
Our favourites include:
- SelfControl - its a free Mac app that blocks distracting websites for a specified amount of time. (By distracting, we’re talking Facebook/Twitter - that kind of thing. You literally can’t block all the porn - it’s like 99% of the internet).
- Oxford Dictionary of English - because spelling is hard innit.
- Dropbox - In the olden days before internet storage, if you deleted your work - you were actually screwed. Now you can upload your files in the cloud (don’t ask us to explain what it is) and you can get them online.
- Ted - The Ted talk’s app presents video talks from some of the world’s most “fascinating people”. We’re still waiting for our call...
5) Learn how to cook - cheaply
You know what, it doesn’t have to be all Pot Noodles and dodgy takeaways. University is the perfect time to learn how to cook. You’ll have to use your initiative to use cheap items, which means if you can produce something decent to eat with 30p and a dirty microwave, you’ll be set up for life. In fact, if you fail your degree, at least you’ll stand a chance on Masterchef.
So where to start?
- Get yourself a slow-cooker - Seriously, they are pretty cheap to buy (around £20), and it means you can shove a load of ingredients into the morning before/night before class - and it’s a pretty fool-proof way to make something delicious. There are a million Facebook groups who pride themselves on coming up with unusual ways to use a slow cooker such as cooking a whole cooked breakfast, cakes and even cleaning products.
- Check out Studentcooking.tv - this is an awesome site, with loads of videos showing students how to cook cheap, nutritious meals that are really easy to do.
- Make the most of the stuff in your fridge - If you have a load of random stuff in your fridge, that isn’t quite a meal - don’t go to the shops to top up or ditch the products completely, check out Allrecipes UK. Put it in all the products you have, and it will come up with recipes you can cook.