How to Get Ready For University


As part of my coaching practice for women who tend toward introversion and perfectionism, I coach young women working towards going to university, going through university or who are new graduates. This works well as my background was as a teacher and I live near Oxford, so I am near Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University. My training as a career coach also helps with this part of an individual’s life journey.

This blog post is for them:

So you or your child is starting university in September? The gap year that seemed as though it was going to go on for ever is quickly coming to an end and there are book lists to be printed out and wardrobes to be assessed!

Some things stay the same. You might need new shoes the way you always did for the Autumn term, although you are less likely to be buying these from Clarks with your mum there to ask you to walk up and down in them. You’ll still be buying stationery for the new term, but let’s face it, your pencil case is a bit less likely to have ‘Hello Kitty’ or ‘Dangermouse’ on it.

Some things are going to be different. You are going to be steering your own way in life, perhaps more than you ever have, and so here are some tips that are a little different from the usual ones that tell you to buy a cheap kettle for your bedroom and to make sure you go to Freshers week.

1) Remember that it is not necessarily the case that the friends that you make in fresher’s week will be your friends throughout your time at university. Don’t worry if you tag onto a group and it turns out to be not the best fit for you. You are allowed to change your friend choices.

2) Suss out student accommodation and choose it carefully. If you need a bit more support, to begin with, it may be better to live in a Halls of Residence.

3) Get into good habits now. The You Tube channel ‘College Info Geek’ has some great ideas on this. For example, if you get into a great sleep and exercise routine, you can carry that with you into your time at uni. You can track habits on an app like Habitica.

4) If you haven’t already, educate yourself about the dangers of drink (in more than moderation) and drugs so that if you are ever tempted you already know all the reasons why it’s really not a good idea.

5) Familiarise yourself with the outline of your courses and check if there is any preparatory reading to do. In any case, if you have been on a gap year, practise reading something that is a bit more like the books you will be studying to lessen the intellectual shock of going from ‘Hello’ Magazine to ‘History of the 20th Century.’

If your course choice starts to fill you with dread, you need to work out if that is just fear of the new or if you really have made the wrong choice. If you really have made the wrong choice, explore your options with the university.

6) Keep in touch with your friends from B.U. (before uni). It can be helpful to check-in with them about their experiences of navigating this new life stage.

7) Realise that this is a huge life stage change and big changes can bring up a lot of emotional gunk. Everything that you knew before can seem like it has gone out of the window. The mantra for this period of change is ‘I haven’t a clue what is going on and that’s O.K..’ Don’t worry, this stage doesn’t last forever.

8) Trust your intuition – when making any choices think to yourself ‘does this feel like diving into a pool of clear blue water or does it feel like diving into a pool of sludge?’ The clear blue water choice is the one to go for.

9) Keep in touch with your parents. I know you are trying to establish yourself in this new life stage. The thing to remember is that it’s also a huge life-stage for your parents. You are their little baby bird and you are flying the nest and that can be tough for them. (You’ll know if this is the case for you. It’s not the case for everyone) Your relationship is going to exist far beyond your time at Uni and even a short call will help just to reassure them that you’re O.K..

10) Pick the courses, student union and societies that light you up.

11) If you need any help with beliefs about yourself you might want to work with a coach like me. You might have beliefs about not being clever enough, needing to struggle through things, others being better than you, not having enough time….

All sorts of beliefs can get in the way of making your time at university a success. Working with a coach can help you to start believing better stories about yourself.

12) Use ‘the 3 Bs’ to avoid overwhelm. What can you bag (not do)? What can you barter? (get someone else to do) What can you better? (all the ways you can make a task you are not keen on a better experience for yourself)

You are about to embark on a huge adventure and one that I hope that you will be able to use to plant the seeds of your life beyond uni and will look back on happily.

It’s important to enjoy the days of summer, but you can do a great deal to prepare yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for the new challenges that are coming.

I offer a free 20-minute consultation for young adults/parents to find out more about coaching together. Please email me at to book. (For under 18s calls take place with the young adult and a parent present)

‘When I first was considering coaching with Deborah, I was unsure how it would work, and in particular how it would work as a mother and daughter team. What I found was that coaching with Deborah was incredibly beneficial and the process of it is so interesting. We built such a good working relationship.

Deborah has a lovely generous confident spirit that’s suited to working with young people. We now have processes to think on and strategies to help us deal with life’s challenges. I would absolutely recommend working with Deborah, as her coaching is very effective. I am so grateful to Deborah for helping my daughter through coaching and can see how much she has advance personally during our work together.’


‘While writing my Masters thesis, Deborah supported me with two coaching sessions. She shifted my mindset from seeing only limiting circumstances I couldn´t change, into perceiving my own strengths, and seeing the positivity in the situation. This was the missing piece of the puzzle for me to finish my thesis happily. I passed – with distinction.’

Lea Holzer

Please note that all results are individual to the particular client and no promises are made of certain results.