Preparing to Study: 10 Top Tips for Starting Uni

Is your dream job designing video games? Or working behind a mixing desk? Or perhaps it’s a future in filmmaking? Studying at SAE is where creatives get both hands-on learning and door-opening qualifications.

Whether you’re fresh out of your A-levels or coming back to academia later in life, starting your higher education journey is always an exciting time – but we know it also comes with changes and challenges. A-level students will enjoy new freedom and independence, but also more responsibility. Mature students may find themselves balancing study with work or family commitments. There’s a lot to take in when you’re starting out.

But don’t worry – we’re here to help! We’ve put together a list of 10 things you can do to get yourself 100% SAE-ready.


Tuition, accommodation and daily expenses can add up fast, but there are simple ways to keep on top of your finances. Set up a budget that includes all your expenses and income, and remember to put aside a little extra for emergencies or unexpected costs.

Check out money managing apps like Squirrel, Wally or Splitwise, which make it easy to keep track of your spending, and even help you save. It’s a good idea to look into a student bank account, too, as some will offer perks for students like discounted railcards and cash-back deals.


If you need to sort accommodation, speak to campus staff or check our Student Accommodation page for recommendations of reliable organisations that offer student rooms and other options in your city.

Even if you’re familiar with the place you’re going to be studying in, it’s always a good idea to spend some time exploring the local area around your campus. Getting to know the supermarkets, pharmacies, coffee shops and transport stops around you early will definitely add to your quality of life once you arrive.


Once you’ve got your budget set up, create a checklist of necessary items, like foodstuffs, home goods, stationery and study materials. The earlier you can do this the better, as it will give you a chance to spread the cost of purchases over time, avoiding big bills all at once. It’s worth noting that once you’re enrolled, you’ll also have access to discounts at the SAE Student Store.


Once you receive them, take a look at the syllabus and list of recommended texts and start gathering any essential books. Kickstarting your reading early will get your learning off to a great start and familiarise you with the subject matter. As you read, make notes and summaries to organise important information in a format that’s best for you… And don’t hesitate to ask your tutors questions – it’s an essential part of critical thinking.


Accelerated learning helps you reach your goals faster, but it does require plenty of self-motivation and independent study. And that’s not always easy! Make a timetable, featuring all your classes and study sessions, as well as social events and personal time. (It’s important to keep a realistic school/life balance.) For big projects, break them down into manageable steps and use a planner to prioritise tasks. There are all sorts of useful apps to help you stay organised, like Google Calendar or Todoist.


Studying at SAE doesn’t just offer valuable skills and qualifications – it’s a chance to build real-world relationships and creative networks. Our student campuses are wonderfully diverse, and offer plenty of opportunities to learn from and understand different cultures and perspectives. Join events and clubs, and connect with other new students on social media (SAE is on all the major social media platforms!).

Even if you’re not feeling confident, chatting to people in a similar position as you, or like-minded learners within the same field, can be hugely reassuring.


Trying to balance study, work and personal life can be a lot, so it’s really important to look after your mental and physical health. That means making sure you’re eating well, scheduling regular exercise and getting enough sleep. Incorporating things like yoga, meditation or simple deep breathing exercises into your routine are great ways to manage stress. Always speak to someone if you’re struggling in any way; SAE students also get free access to Togetherall, an online mental health platform.


Staying in touch with a support network outside your new life as a student – whether that’s close friends or family – is really valuable for mental and emotional wellbeing. And if the support you need is learning-related, SAE has a team of dedicated Student Experience Officers who can assist with anything from giving your essays a fresh look, to offering advice on your presentation skills. Consider them your first point of contact if you’re ever feeling a bit stuck.


Life experience is a valuable asset in every walk of life. Whatever your age or background, you’ve got something unique to bring to the table. Use what you know to your advantage — apply existing knowledge to your studies, share your insights, and be open to supporting and informing your peers.


SAE is a place to deepen your interests, but also to tap into that curious part of yourself that led you to a creative industry career in the first place. Embrace it by participating in extracurricular activities like getting involved in the development of SAE’s student magazine, Focus, or applying to record your music tracks for free in a professional studio as part of The SAE Session Station initiative. Finding new ways to nourish your creative side will only enhance your academic experience.

So, while it’s absolutely natural to feel a little nervous about starting your new life at SAE, you’ve totally got this! Your career path is a personal one but that doesn’t mean you have to walk it alone. Whatever your course, the right amount of preparation and support will see you on your way to gaining your qualification and landing that future dream job. It’s definitely time to start getting excited!


SAE offers two-year accelerated degree courses in growth creative media industries – Audio Production, Content Creation & Online MarketingGame Art Animation, and Games Programming – all aimed at helping the next generation of creative professionals get ahead.

Get in touch to find out more.

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