Whether you’re still in education, thinking of furthering it, or your children are the ones going through all the big educational motions, odds are you’ve been making the most of the summer holidays. However, the end of the holidays is near, and brings with it an overwhelming sense of dread as you realise you have to work out your morning routine, how to stay awake for a solid eight hours, and spend money sorting out new stationery, uniform and, er… bowls. Whatever your situation, BN1 has got you covered with some top tips for making this time of year as manageable as possible.

SCHOOL

Apparently, it costs on average around £200 each year getting your kids, and teens, ready to go back to school. Yikes. Here’s a few money saving tips to help you through this month:

• Washing dark clothes with a little bit of vinegar –distilled white – can keep them looking newer for longer. It’s amazing what a little of DIY can do for your slightly aged possessions.

• How about chatting with some of the other parents to do a clothes swap (as long as it’s just a matter of them growing out the clothes, no stains!) Give the smaller clothes to the younger kids and get some of the older siblings to pass on their redundant clothing.

• While it may be tempting to splurge on stationery on Amazon (especially after finding little Timmy has lost ANOTHER pen), many schools supply stationery cheaply, and there are plenty of independent stationers in the city to get you covered. For the basic stuff, cover workbooks in wrapping paper and stickers – and invest in a good pencil case to prevent the loss of supplies.

• Remember, half the stuff you might be thinking of buying, won’t end up getting used or is a bit useless e.g. Tipex and post it notes etc. so really don’t bother.

A good idea to get prepared would also be to check the school’s website or newsletter in case any rules have been changed for the new year, or there’s something going on that you didn’t know about. It’s also a great place for additional advice relevant to you – use it to your advantage! Also, why not research some yummy recipes or ideas for lunch boxes? Pinterest has some great ideas that are both easy on the eyes and the pocket, and will prevent you from rushing like a maniac around Sainsbury’s the night before school restarts, or boring the kids relentlessly with the same soggy sarnies as last year.

SIXTH FORM/COLLEGE

Whether you’re returning to sixth form or college for your second year, or just beginning, there’s a lot of stuff coming your way. These two years will be totally different to any form of education you’ve had before. You’ll have less contact hours and aren’t legally obliged to go – though don’t let this be a slippery slope – and will probably be learning a whole load of new and interesting things, not just academically but life-wise too. Read on for some guidance on how to power through these times:

• Your health is so important through these two years, trust me, whether that’s physical or mental, you must look after yourself. Avoid too much boozing (technically it’s not legal but we all know you do it anyway) which can be detrimental to your body and mind. Find some natural energy boosters: something low in caffeine to avoid a crash, lots of water and iron enriched foods as well as a normal sleeping pattern.

• Don’t let the pressure break you: tutors and general attitudes tend to be good at making you think that A levels/BTEC’s are the be-all and end-all of yourself and your career, they’re not. It’s awesome if you can do it, but if you’re struggling and don’t manage, there are other routes!

• As mentioned, make sure you show up. It’s easy to use and abuse your freedom, but it won’t benefit you in the long run, resulting in you feeling more isolated and behind on work. It’s also why you need to stick to number one, as it makes those early mornings a hell of a lot easier.

• Get to know the UCAS system and writing your personal statement as soon as you can if you plan on going to university. It seems daunting, but if you get ahead of the game, you’ll ace it. If you don’t intend on going to uni, then try and get some work experience behind you in your free time. It’ll boost up your CV if nothing else.

Amongst all, just try and enjoy it, make sure you like your subjects and try and change them soon if you don’t, because it’ll make you happier and produce better work if you are passionate about them. Set yourself up a good support system too, whether that’s a life coach/counsellor your institution may have, or your mother, they’ll both help you.

UNIVERSITY

University will undoubtedly be the best time of your life! This is a statement not to live too closely by, not because it might be crappy, but because it will get you down if your experience isn’t living up to the hype you see and hear everywhere. This is a time that isn’t completely about education – let’s be honest here – as there is tonnes of other stuff happening at once like leaving home, meeting new friends, living without parents/guardians and so on. Some tips you may want to follow through your beginning, or going back to uni are:

Don’t avoid work. Amongst all the chaos of drinking, partying or just immersing yourself in a new social setting, it’s easy to postpone work. Especially if this year back is proving more difficult than the last, it can be easy to leave all your coursework ‘til the last minute, however, running away from stress will only make it worse when it finally comes down to it.

• It’s simple, but get a decent amount of cutlery, crockery and other utensils. Try somewhere like ASDA. You don’t usually end up realising what you need until your half way through cooking a meal and realise your tinned dinner requires a tin opener

• Never lose sight of who you are or who your friends are. In the midst of trying to fit in, people can turn dickish because they think it’s what’s cool or whatever. Reality is that people like someone who is authentic and if you’re trying to act a certain way then they aren’t right for you. Also, don’t let new friends, boyfriends or girlfriends make you fob off the friends who really care about you.

• Always carry a notepad and pen to lectures and seminars. Yes, it’s a digital world, but a pen and paper can never fail you, computer documents can end up being hard to keep track of and aren’t as versatile.

Whatever your situation this September, try not to stress! Things are never as bad as you think they’re going to be. Just be mindful of everyone around you who wants as pleasant an experience as much as you do, and, most of all, look after yourself.


 

Universal Checklist:

o Stationery (of course) – pens, notepads, highlighters and folders are the essentials

o Books – you’re guaranteed to need some text books, or academic reading.

o Sturdy luggage – whether this is your backpack for all your books, or suitcase for your belongings, it will be an investment.

o Tupperware – for your lunches on the go

o NUS Card – for university students: grab those discounts whilst you can

o A calendar – this will come in handy for term times, exams and assignments

o Water bottle – a non-plastic water bottle will sort you out through long mornings and afternoons

o Good shoes – wherever your going, there’ll be a fair amount of being on your feet in all weather and other conditions

o Emergency snacks – if you get super hungry towards the end of school, or decide to stay late in the library, keep the grouch at bay.