Essential tips on ICMP Student Life

Starting university soon? Here are some top tips to get you through...


Being a student might seem daunting as many will moving somewhere new and being on their own for the first time.

However, there are certain steps you can take to prepare yourself to make sure your entry into student life goes as smoothly as possible. 

Here, we've put together our essential student life hacks to help you get ready before university and make the most of your experiences.

Check out our advice below ... and please get in touch if you think there's anything else to add ...


You have probably heard this from everyone but budgeting is a really important part of life, especially when you are a student. 

If you receive a maintenance loan, then it is wise to budget exactly how much you will be spending on rent, bills, transport, food and going out (drinking and entertaining yourself!).

Use a spreadsheet or old fashioned pen and paper to get things written down clearly and out of the stress of your head.

This is an effective process as you can then see how much money you have left, where you are spending the majority of your money and how you might be able to make savings.  

Top Tip

Websites such as Student Beans and Unidays can help you save on shops, restaurants and much more. Many places offer student discounts so don't forget to ask as you could be getting products and services at much cheaper prices."

At ICMP, we also have our Student Discount Page which is great if you are looking at buying new software or equipment to help enhance your music studies.

Setting up a bank account 


While we are talking about money, when setting up your loan or coming over to the UK to study, we recommend setting up a new student bank account. 

Not only are there many perks but when you graduate you will then have an account where you can have an overdraft without an interest rate.

This means that you don't have to pay for your bank account depending on the deal the you have with your new bank. 

What we recommend:

  • Choose a bank account with the biggest overdraft. Typically, you will be charged interest but on student accounts this is not usually the case. Make the most of it and get a bank account with 0% interest rate and the largest overdraft. 
  • Check when you have to pay your overdraft back. This is not free money so plan ahead. You will usually have a while to pay back your overdraft after you graduate but make sure you check these details so you don't give yourself a nasty surprise! 

Top Bank Accounts 

Remember, you should do your research into what might be most suitable when you need to open an account. Many of these deals and their accompanying offers are subject to change. 

Santander: Four-year railcard (on travel across the UK as well as discounted travel for your oyster), up to £2,000 0% interest free overdraft. 

Natwest: £80 cash and four-year Taste card as well as up to £2,000 0% interest free overdraft. 

HSBC: £100 cash and up to £3,000 0% interest free overdraft.

Basic cooking skills

You might already be like the chef Gordon Ramsay in the kitchen and enjoy whipping up a good meal.

However, if this isn't you, then we would recommend trying out some dishes at home first. Make sure there are some you like and can cook and before getting to university. 

Not only does this prepare you so it doesn't feel as daunting, it helps with budgeting money for food. This means you don't waste anything or burn it!

It can be all too easy to eat out but it is important to take care of your bank account and your health." 

BBC Good Food is a great place to start for culinary inspiration but we also recommend Deliciously Ella for vegetarians and vegans. You can download her app on the app store.

Although you have to pay monthly for this app it also includes workouts, yoga, meditations and podcasts!

Prioritise your time 

Easier said than done, especially in your first year at university when you are a social butterfly. Still, it is important to take time out for yourself to reflect on your feelings and studies. 

At ICMP, making time for your studies or practising is important as this is the time to grow and make mistakes! We recommend setting some goals every semester, whether that is learning a new song or going to one gig a week.

Also, make time to clean your space and do your food shopping! We recommend doing this at the beginning of the week on a Monday or Sunday so you can start your week fresh and ready to go.  

If you know you are going to be busy, things like meal prep can be great as a musician.

Of course, sometimes a late night takeaway is exactly what you need. However, returning home to an already made dinner that you just have to heat up and can watch with you favourite TV show is a dream!

Get to know your area 


Wherever you are moving to, understanding a new area can be challenging. Which places are safe? Where can you get the best coffee? Which is the best park for a morning run? 

Make time to go out an explore by yourself or with friends so you know spots you can visit and where to avoid."

London is vast and has both good and bad aspects to living within it. Perhaps most importantly, it has some of the world's best live music venues.

Stay tuned for updates from ICMP as we will provide you with further information and support on the local area and where is best to move too. 

Set realistic goals

Every student has set a goal at the beginning of the academic year. 

Whatever your ambitions, having a plan and following it will ensure that you actually get there."

Sounds simple, but why do January's good intentions often end up discarded by March?

Many set up goals which are too difficult or too general which is why they can sometimes fail.  

So, before you pen down your list of ambitions, make sure that you are precise and the list is not beyond your ability. Track your records, making sure that these mentally reinforce the importance of your goals every day. It’s difficult at the start, but it will become a habit if you cultivate it.

Invest in resources ahead of getting to university

As music students, you will have different needs at university when it comes to resources, particularly when working out what to bring to help you on your academic journey. 

If you're studying drums, then perhaps some new sticks would be useful - or new strings for anyone looking to study guitar. If you're following the Music Business and Entrepreneurship programme, then you will likely need a laptop and to familiarise yourself with the latest industry resources/websites. 

Remember, ICMP students can use our music facilities for personal practice free of charge outside of timetabled hours. We are also open seven days a week.

Prioritise yourself

Studying can sometimes be tough. Perhaps multiple deadlines will be competing for your attention? Or you could be feeling lonely due to living away from home?

If this is the case, then you need to potentially take some time to invest in yourself.

Staying hydrated, exercising, getting fresh air and reaching out to your nearest and dearest can all be essential in maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

When you aren’t happy, it doesn’t matter what grades you get. So mentally check in and make sure you're doing what you can to be kind to yourself. 

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
July 20, 2023
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