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Starting uni: Top tips from the Tech Chap

Monday 11 September 2017 Trends

John Lewis have supplied us with some top tips from ex-students turned bloggers and vloggers. Here, tech expert and vlogger Tom Honeyands, aka The Tech Chap, tells us about the best apps for surviving uni and why you should get involved with your students' union. Tom graduated from Exeter University in 2013 with a degree in Law.

What’s the one thing you know now, that you wished someone would have told you before starting university?

Start a YouTube channel! Since most of us don’t really know what we want to do at uni, join lots of clubs and make sure you have time for your hobbies and passion projects. I read Law at uni, and only 50 per cent of law students go into the profession after graduation, so keep your options open by spending time on the stuff that really interests you, such as learning to code, starting a blog or creating a YouTube channel.

What should I pack and bring to university with me?

Just the essentials: toothbrush, laptop, and a crate of beer! From a tech perspective, I found bringing a monitor with me was really helpful. Having a second screen for my laptop made working much easier (i.e. having Wikipedia open on one screen, and a word doc on the other).

What’s your advice for getting through exam season?

Don’t force yourself to revise or go to the library if you’re not in the mood to work. You’ll just procrastinate and not take anything in. Use your time strategically, and revise when you feel like it. Also, frequent trips to the pub helped keep me sane!

Why should you get involved in your students’ union?

Lectures and essays are only part of uni, get involved with the students' union to have fun, make friends and show future employers that you have a range of interests and skills. I worked at the Student’s bar in first year, earned a few quid and met loads of people.

What are your top tips for making friends at university?

1. Freshers week is the best time to make new friends.  Everyone’s in the same situation as you and are looking to meet new people

2. Join at least one club or society as well, since this is a great way to make friends who have similar interests to you.

3. Plan to meet up with classmates to do homework or research is also really helpful, and these connections will be really useful to you after uni.

What’s the one thing you didn’t do at uni that you now wish you did?

Get a 1st! Really though, I wish I’d started my YouTube channel while I was a university. I was reading Law, but I always had a passion for tech and gaming. I had a fair bit of spare time early on, so starting a channel (or just pursuing a hobby) would have been useful.

What’s the best app to help me budget and not blow my student loan at once?

You Need a Budget (YNAB), as it says on the tin, encourages you to save money each month for larger expenses (such as new textbooks, or travelling home). You divide your income into separate pots (e.g. rent, food and Jaeger Bombs), and then when you get your loans in you can easily budget for all your outgoings.

Are there any apps to help me destress?

I find listening to music, or a podcast, is a great way to destress, sometimes I would put on a chilled or relaxing playlist on Spotify and try to forget about the 2,000 word essay I needed to do.

There’s loads of cool relaxing apps like SmilingMind that introduces you to basic mindfulness and meditation techniques. My personal favourite is Buddhify that gives you a variety of simple meditations to do depending on where you are and what you’re doing - it’s a great way to re-focus and clear your mind.

What are the best online learning tools?

It depends what course you do, but sites like (which your university may subscribe to), offers online video training courses for a thousands of subjects. You can easily learn to code or speak French using Lynda.

For workflow management, I find creating a Trello board is really handy. You can create colour-coded cards to show what you’ve done, what you’re doing and what you need to do. I find having a clear ‘to-do list’ makes my work life much simpler and less stressful.

You can follow the Tech Chap on YouTube and Twitter, and check out his tech essentials for students from John Lewis here.