7 September 2001

Handy tips for enjoyable survival if youre making an autumn college start

DONT forget to take a kettle and a packet of biscuits if youre heading off to start a new college course this autumn.

Theres no better way of meeting people and making friends than inviting people to your room for a cuppa, says Ian Robson, head of student services at Harper Adams University College.

Other essentials include a few items to make your room homely. Posters, for example, can make it feel like your own. Taking a reading lamp is also advisable.

&#42 Stereo or TV

Take a stereo or TV if you have one, says Ian. "But dont bring something worth thousands of pounds. Itll only get broken." (Remember, too, youll need a licence for your TV.)

Halls of residence rooms often arent huge – so dont take too much. And youll acquire possessions so you dont want to end up having to take three car-loads home.

Youll be given your student loan cheque on arrival – but itll take a few days to clear, so remember to take some money to last until then. "Youll need a bit of ready cash to tide you over – to buy drinks in the bar and to join a few of the clubs and societies."

Its worth taking a DJ or dress. "You certainly dont get turned away from the balls if youre not wearing it – but you might feel a bit out of place."

Its also well worth taking some old clothes. "Theres lots of fun and games in freshers week. It can be messy. Maybe visit the Oxfam shop to get some."

&#42 Push bike feasible?

Agricultural colleges can be out in the country, so cars are useful – but theyre not essential and a push bike is often a feasible alternative.

About 60% of first-year students at Harper have cars – but they swallow up the cash. "Most of the money problems I get in the first term result from people having cars."

And if you forget anything, dont worry, you can always buy it once your arrive at college or collect it the first time you go home. "A lot of students tend to go home on the third weekend – we dont recommend going home before then," says Ian. "Theres too much going on to enjoy!"

One thing that you cant afford to leave behind, however, is your sense of humour, he says. "Dont be overawed. Its important to join in everything."