Starting university can be a big step for anyone and especially if you’re going to be studying architecture, it will seem like there’s hundreds of things you need to do before you even get there.
If you’re looking for how to apply to architecture at university, read our full guide HERE.
We’ll discuss some of the steps you need to take from making sure your accommodation is sorted to getting all the tools and equipment you may need. Find our free downloadable checklist at the end of the article. Also note that these steps apply to other courses too and the only different steps will be the extra prep such as buying stationary.
If you’re living at home or doing a part-time course, some of these may not apply to you but if you need any other help with settling into university, speak to a student support officer or any of your friends and peers.
Registering for University
After a very relaxing and well-deserved summer you might be buzzing with excitement to start university. Or, you could be quite nervous. Nevertheless, we suggest you start your prep a few weeks before the starting date. If you’re moving out, you will also need to find out which day you can move into the accommodation so be prepared for this.
Usually when you first start university, you will need to register either online or in-person. The university will just want to check your documents such as A-level certificates, your UCAS offer letter and proof of address so that they have it on record. This will also be where you will be given your student ID and be given any other information.
Make sure you have provided your primary e-mail address to the university and keep this on your phone so that you’re constantly updated. Try not to delete any important e-mails either. We suggest you make copies of any important documents like certificates and keep everything in a named folder ready and prepared.
We’re sure you have already, but make sure you have your maintenance loan sorted and you know the amount of loan your getting from Student Finance. Make a note of this number somewhere and talk to your bank about creating or turning your account into a student account. Then try splitting this amount over the term and setting yourself a weekly budget.
You could even go down the app-based banking route to keep track of your spending in real time. We think this article by Save the Student is great.
Now it’ll be time to get some university shopping done.
If you’re living at home then you’re saving a lot of money and you don’t have to worry too much about things like rent or being by yourself. On the other hand, if you really have no choice but to live out then keep on reading. Usually some students want to live on campus in their first year to get a sense of independence or for an experience. You don’t even have to live in university halls but as a first year you get the advantage of being guaranteed a place.
If you are going to university with friends and want to try go for something that may be cheaper (depending on the area) then you could also house share, but you’d have to do this through housing agencies.
For living in halls, find out what’s included already. This can also depend on the type of room you have booked. Some rooms might include a mini fridge of some sorts and other standard equipment like a bin or lamp. Then, make a list of things you will need to buy to take there. For ease, you should try buy food once you get there and do a proper grocery shop, so you’re settled for the next week or so.
Find our downloadable checklist HERE. It has a lot of options, but you don’t necessarily need all of them.
If you’ve booked yourself into a flat with other people, try and use the university halls’ Facebook groups (if they have one) to possibly try find some of your flatmates beforehand so you can go in knowing them a little bit. Usually there are also options to give those coming with friends to be placed in the same flat, but you can search this up on your university’s accommodation portal.
Apart from things for your room, you will also need to prep some stationary and equipment for your studies. For architecture, this means getting some model making supplies, drawing tools and lots and lots of masking tape for starting working in the studio.
Stationary and Equipment
Some universities offer pre-packed bundles of equipment in their university shops. This includes most of the things you will need and can even be priced at a discount as compared to if you were to buy everything separately.
You don’t need to buy everything months before and you can do this a couple of days before your first day. Some courses even send out a list to help you as not all will focus on drawing skills or model making for example so it can be a waste to buy something and not use it.
If you already know of some architecture students in your university or in others, talk to them to find a general idea of the few tools and supplies that are absolutely necessary. Other equipment like notebooks or folders are completely up to you and how you work. Some people prefer keeping everything online and some prefer handwritten notes.
Also bear in mind that during lectures you can take notes however you want. Recently we’ve seen students bring in iPad’s or a small notebook but there is no right or wrong so don’t think you need to spend hundreds on stationary.
Here’s a list of essential tools we think every first-year architecture student starting this year should have. We’ve even included some product links* so you can get a general idea and purchase ahead of time if needed:
- Mechanical Pencils (0.1,0.3,0.5,0.7)
- Lead Refills
- Tracing Paper (White or Yellow)
- Masking Tape
- Ink Pens (0.3,0.5,0,7)
- Scale Ruler
- Regular writing pens – gel or biro
- Permanent Markers
- Coloured pens / pencils (4-5 colours)
- Model Making Tools: Scalpel with 10A blades, wire, wire-cutter or pliers, foam, paper, white card, heavy duty glue, glue stick and any materials you might want to use
Your schedule is usually sent to you or can be accessed via your university portal so make sure to keep checking this out before university begins. It’s okay if you don’t understand much and usually in architecture, there are no strict timings because the whole day can count as a studio day. Once you actually start university, you will better understand and get used to this.
The timetable will most likely be given to you again on your first day which is usually a mix of presentations by the head of the course and icebreaker tasks once you get sorted into your units. Units are basically like classes and can range from about 8-15 students depending on the size of your year group.
Initially, you may notice that you don’t go into university every single day or that some days you only have one lecture and then nothing the rest of the day. After fresher’s period is over, you can start thinking about how to use your time a bit better. For example, if you have a 10am lecture that finishes before lunch, why not get some lunch locally and then use the time afterwards to go over your notes in the library.
Similarly, it’s up to you how much time you spend in the studio. This can also depend on your accommodation status. Those who are commuting might prefer to go home before rush hour and those living on campus can stay longer and work in the studios. But this doesn’t have to be the case for everyone because other’s prefer working solitary and within a comfortable environment so just try and see what you prefer.
If you’re working on a model or large scale drawing it is a bit obvious that you have to stay in the studio because you can’t really take a large model back to your small room. Make sure you keep some time to take breaks as well.
For other days that you’re free, try allocating some other tasks like laundry or grocery shopping and make this a habit where you can. As the deadlines get nearer, you may not have too much time on your hands but by having a schedule you get used to it and can complete this faster. Starting this as early as possible can mean you get familiar with a routine in a short amount of time.
Lastly, we just want to remind you that starting university should be a pleasant experience because after all you’re starting a new chapter in your career and life and it’s the time to make some lasting friends and soak in all that education.
If you’ve been studying at university for a while now, let us know some tips for freshers starting soon in the comments below.
Don’t forget our FREE University Checklist that you can download HERE.
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