The thought of applying and going off to university can be quite daunting, but first year Cardiff University student, and former St David's student, Sophie put minds at ease this afternoon when she ran through her top tips for applying to university, and for how to make the most of it once you arrive!


There are lots of things to think about when deciding which universities to apply to:


  • What exactly do you want to study?

  • If you don't know, how can you help yourself to decide (talk to family friends, teachers, gain work experience)?

  • Have you checked courses with the same name at different universities? It doesn't mean the content is the same, and some may be better suited to your interests.


  • Do you want to stay close to home or get as far away as possible? Even studying at a new institution in your home town can make you see it in a different light, so if staying close to home is right for you, that's no bad thing!

  • Do you fancy being on a campus site or being a bit more spread out across the city?

  • Are you going to be comfortable in a really big city or would you prefer somewhere smaller?


  • Make sure you carefully consider why a particular course is appealing to you; are you going for the right reasons (not just because a friend is!), or are there particular characteristics about that course or institution that you could look for in others as well?


There is a huge amount to look forward to when you go off to uni. It won't just be the course content that's new to you, you will also improve your skills in:

  • decision making

  • self-motivation

  • problem solving

  • organisation

  • social skills

  • referencing

  • independent living

  • ...and so much more!



It can be really scary to start in a new place, but you do need to remember that everyone is in the same boat as you and even if they don't show it, they do all feel nervous too!

Make sure you throw yourself in at the deep end and attend the activities on offer, be chatty with your new house mates (you'll probably end up being best friends anyway, so you may as well get cracking), join clubs and strike up conversations with the person sitting next to you in lectures (see previous point!).

Freshers Week is the perfect opportunity for this - there is so much on (Cardiff offers over 200 clubs and societies), you're guaranteed to find something you like!


The students union is the main hub for all things studenty. They offer clubs, societies, activities, events, work opportunities, parties... the list is endless. Get involved and meet a whole other set of people to be friends with!


So what were Sophie's best pieces of advice are when starting at university:

1. Make different friends

There will be people from all over the UK and beyond at university and you will meet different types of people in halls, to the types in your lectures, to the types at the clubs and societies. It's nice to know you have friends wherever you go!

2. Budget

Student Finance give out your living allowance loan in three bits: September, January and April, so it is up to you to budget properly so that you don't run out of money. Spending all your money in Freshers' Week might seem like a good idea at the time, but don't forget you also have eat (and go out) for the rest of the term!

3. Learn how to cook more than cereal

(And don't cook cereal) It is important to stay healthy, because when you're healthy your brain will work better and you will have more energy. Make sure you're eating properly and maybe get a parent or sibling to teach you a few easy recipes before you leave.

4. Be organised with work

As much as going out seems more appealing than staying in and writing an essay, putting your work off until the last minute is just stressful and won't produce your best work. You want to come out of university with a degree you can be proud of and will take you places. Prioritise your work and come out confident that you did the very best you could.

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