Advice for school leavers on everything from surviving a-levels to what to expect at university from those who have been through it all.

1. It’s ok if you don’t know what to do

Not knowing what to do when you leave school is fine! Decisions about your future such as which university to go to are difficult (take this pick a degree quiz to narrow down your options) but remember that you don’t need to decide on a career at this point - most students get to the end of university and are still unsure. Taking a gap year is a great way to take some time out of education, earn money and travel - just make sure you don’t put off the inevitable - set aside time to plan what you’re going to do the following year.

I have no idea what I'm doing

2. Appreciate your parents

It’s not until you move out that you realise how much they do for you.

Appreciating your parents

3. Enjoy the structure

Teaching at university is different to teaching at school. There’s an emphasis on independent learning and your lecturer certainly won’t tell you exactly what to include in an essay -  detailed specifications and mark schemes are a thing of the past. Despite this, the great thing about uni is that there is much more flexibility around when you get your work done and you have much more freedom in how to plan your time. Don't fancy going to the library at 9am, no problem:

Kim Kardashian sleeping

4. at uni You won’t feel as grown up as you think

You may be certain that when you’re no longer in your teens and have started university that you will finally feel like a proper grown-up, but that’s not always the case. In fact, sometimes you will feel the opposite and the student stereotypes of foolishness and drunken antics don’t exactly help.

Deadline with responsibilities as a student

5. Enjoy the home-cooked meals while you can

Because they’re free in terms of both cost and effort. If every meal you attempt to cook turns to charcoal, just pray that one of your new flatmates is a culinary genius. It’s definitely worth learning the basics and a few simple recipes to get you started, but if you really hate cooking catered halls may be a good option for you. Read about the pros and cons of living in catered halls here.

Eating pizza at uni

6. If you think you’re poor now - it gets worse

Rent, bills and socialising are expensive and the bank of Mum and Dad proves much more difficult to access as you get older (but thankfully student finance acts a sufficient replacement).

Help me please

7. You can stay in touch with your school friends

Despite what people may tell you, it is possible. Chances are you already have a group Whatsapp or Facebook message which makes it so much easier to stay in contact. Also, the university holidays are long giving you plenty of time to catch up when everyone's back home. You could even take a road trip and visit your friends at their universities.

Joey and Chandler hug

8. Keep some of your a-level notes

Having a quick read through of notes relevant to your degree course will refresh your memory and prevent the pure panic that occurs when you think you've forgotten everything you’ve ever learnt.

Student forgetting things

9. Be yourself

Life’s too short and people tend to be a lot less judgemental when you’ve left school - university is a great place to meet like-minded people with similar interests and make friends for life. Gaga knows:

Lady Gaga advice

This may seem like the most stressful year of your life (and probably is, so far) but remember summer is almost here!

We have lots of useful guides and funny articles to help you prepare for university, including 'The Pros and Cons of Living in Catered Halls', '20 of the Most Distressing Sixth Form Problems' and '18 Thoughts You Have During an Exam'. 

Top Student Offers and Freebies