If you can’t make guilt-free mistakes at uni, when can you? You have to try loads of new things as a student, and you can’t have trial without error.
Here’s 24 of the most commonly-made first year mistakes, how you can avoid them, and - most importantly - why you shouldn’t worry if you make them all anyway.
The average student spends £32 a month on books. That’s a lot of money, so make sure you only buy the essentials.
Most modules have one core text. Find a cheap second hand copy if you can, and look out for second- and third-years selling theirs. Use the library for everything else.
When the first loan instalment hits your account, the temptation to spend can be very real. Your balance has probably never had that many numbers in it.
But September’s payment is supposed to last the whole term. So figure out how much you’ve got for that period, break it down to a weekly amount, and start prioritising.
This is a mistake, but it does demonstrate two good things: you’ve done a food shop recently; and you’ve bought some fresh, nutritious food. Now to fix the wastage.
Freeze bread you’re not going to use. Make a meal with your veg and freeze that too. Switch to UHT milk and keep a carton in the cupboard for when you know you’ll use it.
Enough clothes. Bedding. Kitchen stuff. Some things are essential, but the number of things that are is actually quite small.
Don’t take every item of clothing you own, or bring your old school work, or cart hundreds of books and DVDs to university. You’ll need much less than you think.
Hard on your body, even harder on your bank balance. Having food delivered regularly will leave you short on cash and even shorter on energy.
Make a big batch of something nutritious at the start of the week and split it into portions. Then all you have to do each night is heat it up and cook some carbs/veg to go with it.
Nobody expects you to call home every day, and that might not be the best way to find your feet at uni. But the people who love you will want to know you’re alright.
If there are friends and family at home who miss you, put a recurring reminder in your phone for a weekly call - even better if it’s a video call.
Read more: 45 Easy ways to relax in your room
The classic rookie mistake. Freshers’ fairs are a lot of fun, and it can be quite the ego boost when society reps are desperate for your details.
Don’t overcommit. Try a few taster sessions by all means. Then join one or two, max. Otherwise, you’ll be deleting spam emails from societies all year long.
Cooking and money management are the two top skills to learn in your first semester. A close third is time management, the only way to get everything done.
Read more: 6 Smart productivity apps for students
Easily the biggest gripe about living with other people. Sharing a house means sharing habits, and not everybody’s that well-educated about cleanliness.
Four things you can do: wash up as soon as you finish eating, take the bin out if it’s full or starting to smell, make a weekly flat cleaning rota, and RESPECT THE ROTA.
Another common flatmate complaint, and it’s so avoidable. Almost every type of student accommodation is non-smoking - including all Unite Students buildings.
If you’re a smoker, make the short trip outside to the smoking area. Every time. It’s a breach of your tenancy agreement - and just very unfair on your flatmates - to do otherwise.
Too much alcohol and fast food will leave you feeling pretty wrecked pretty quickly. But not enough sleep will do it faster.
It’s vital that you get your 8.5 hours of sleep most nights. Once freshers’ is over, learn to feel comfortable saying no to invites. Pick and choose when you go out, and get your rest.
Some first years use their new-found anonymity to change who they are. A new backstory, different clothes, a new name. Which is fine, if that’s what you want to do.
But know this: you don’t need to be embarrassed of where you’re from, who you are, how you speak, who you fancy, or anything else. Be yourself - you’re good enough.
Being a student is a bit like being a circus juggler. Lots of clubs - study, social, work, flatmates, family - and lots of work to keep them all in the air.
The study club is fundamental to your act. Don’t make the mistake of missing lectures and seminars regularly. Establish good habits now for successful second and third years.
Imagine thinking you had a packet of chocolate Hobnobs in the cupboard, only to find somebody had nicked and eaten them. That’s grade A devastation.
Don’t do it. You never know when your flatmate is planning to eat/drink that thing you want. Drag yourself to the shops and avoid the bad feelings.
This one’s totally understandable. There are few things in life more exciting than finding the Joey to your Chandler, the Patrick to your Spongebob.
Stay open to making new friends. Until you know people a bit better, you won’t know if you’ve found a keeper or not. Cast your net wide for a better chance of a good catch.
Adjusting to university life can be tough at times. Just remember there are people around who you can talk to. New friends and flatmates may be feeling the same way. Talk to friends and family back home too, if you can.
Nightline is available from 8pm to 8am (it’s a free and confidential listening service). Your university has a free counselling service if you need it. And if you’re having trouble coping, see your GP as soon as possible.
It’s perfectly natural to miss home and, as we’ve already seen, calling home regularly is a great idea. But it’s also wise to give yourself a chance to settle in.
Try to get involved in events and activities in the first few months. They’ll make you feel more connected to the place and people, and that’s key to feeling at home there.
If you’re living in student halls, most of neighbours will be other first years. But there’ll be a few Van Wilder types who’ve seen it done it all already.
Don’t neglect these people. For one thing, they might have textbooks you can buy. For another, they’re a great way to find out what you can expect from the year ahead.
Gossip helps nobody. He said, she said, he did, she did. All gossip does is create and reinforce division. Avoid it and help others avoid it too.
Got a gossipy housemate? Change the subject. Encourage them to think about how they’re similar to others, rather than focusing on what they see as differences.
There’s a strong chance your first year doesn’t count, mathematically, towards your final degree mark. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it doesn’t count at all.
Get into a proper routine early. Decide when’s the time for fun, for exercise, for study, for cooking, for the weekly food shop. Keeping your stress levels down is all about routine.
University libraries are great, but they can be busy. If you need a quiet study space where there are non-student people, join your local library.
You’ll have all the books and free WiFi you need, and you’ll be doing something more of us should be doing - using our public libraries so we don’t lose them.
Excited about the endless events? There’s a reason freshers’ week is temporary. It’s great for meeting people quickly but it’s impossible - and unwise - to sustain that pace.
Or maybe you’re dreading a year full of parties. Don’t worry, everything calms down after freshers’ and most people will find a healthier study/social balance.
From five hours of lessons a day and teachers who told you what to do, to self-study and just 16 hours of ‘contact time’ a week. Academically, it can take a while to adjust at uni.
Don’t worry if you’re not getting grades of 70+ in your first year, even if you’ve always been a straight-A student. Try to focus on starting assignments early and having regular study times.
The biggest mistake you can make is being tough on yourself for doing any of these things. We all make mistakes all the time.
So be yourself, have fun, take care, be nice to people, and do your best.
That’s all anybody can ask.