Your second and third year of uni can be hectic to say the least, especially in your third year where you’ll be tearing your hair out because you just don’t have enough hours in the day. So, make the most of your first year.

You only get to be a first-year student once so be social, go out and experience all you can, while you have the time. This is the moment where you’ll get your first taste of real independence. Come the second and third year, things will be very different.

Independence

Leaving home means you’ll have to start doing things for yourself, like your own laundry and washing the dishes (or you could leave your house mates to that, and start a classic house war). But other than having to do the laundry, the washing up, the weekly food shop, and nursing yourself after one too many late nights out, there’ll be plenty of ways to utilise your newfound independence.

For instance, when you’re not in lectures or doing coursework, you could learn how to drive. The advantages of being able to drive are endless. Even if you don’t have a car, acquiring the skill is invaluable, especially when you leave uni and are about to dive into the “real world”.

Cram

Intensive driving courses are really useful if you have large blocks of free time and want to pass in a short period. Plus, after spending years revising and studying, you’ve undoubtedly learnt the art of cramming. So, perhaps you could put that cramming experience to use?

Whether you choose to cram your lessons in-between lectures or during holiday breaks like Christmas, Easter, and summer, there are courses to accommodate all.

Budget

Now, you may be sitting there thinking, “But I’m a student which means I’m in crippling debt, so how the heck will I be able to afford it?” Chill. As a student, you’ll probably have a student loan which you’re using for all the important things like clothes, snacks, streaming music and partying. So, it may be a good idea to invest a portion of that money in driving lessons.

It might seem like a large expense at a time when your finances are already stretched, but being able to drive will give you an advantage both at uni and once you leave. For instance, it’s much better being able to drive to the supermarket and get your food shopping with ease than having to trod home with dozens of heavy shopping bags in the rain!

Plus, some jobs may require you to know how to drive and/or own a car. So, when your parents are shouting at you for “misusing” your student loan, you can pull that benefit out of the bag and sell the idea to them that you were being smart and planning ahead!

Not to mention intensive driving courses can work out much cheaper than normal, weekly driving lessons. Yet another benefit to sell to the judge and jury of mum and dad: you were getting a good deal for your money!

The cost to insure your first car can be pricey, which may put you off the prospect of learning how to drive, however, there are affordable ways around this. For instance, if you or any of your family members have a car that you wish to learn to drive in, then there are insurance policies available that are designed specifically for learner drivers.

Instructors’ cars are already covered, however, lessons in private cars need dedicated cover. But it could be worth it as it’s always very handy to practice in the car that you’re going to be driving once you’ve passed your driving test.

Intensive Driving Courses

There are some intensive driving courses that offer one week pass courses which are suitable for students looking to learn how to drive during the Christmas, summer, or Easter break for example.  Driving tests for these courses usually take place at the end of the week, and in-car training time usually amounts to more than 30 hours.

There are also semi-intensive driving courses, which allow you to spread out the lessons across a short period e.g. two – four weeks. These classes are more suitable for students who can’t dedicate a longer block of time in one go, but can do a few short bursts of concentrated learning. Again, you’ll be looking at about 30 or more hours of in-car training, especially if it’s your first time driving.

Legally, “there’s no minimum number of lessons you must have or hours you must practise driving”, however, it goes without saying, the more lessons you have, the more skill, confidence and experience you will develop, and thus the more likely you will be to pass.

Pros and Cons

As with everything in life, there are a few pros and cons with taking an intensive driving course:

Pros

You’ll learn in a very short time frame. Because the course is so intense, it’s harder to forget what you’ve learnt, especially when compared to taking one lesson a week across five or six months. So, when it comes to taking the test at the end of the course, you’ll have the advantage of recent knowledge and fresh experience.

Intensive driving courses can also save you money because you buy the lessons in bulk and thus can cost less per lesson.

Cons

Because the intensive driving course will be set in a very short space of time, this might add a bit of pressure to your learning experience. Pressure isn’t automatically a bad thing, there’s nothing like a deadline to make you get your coursework in on time is there? Just bear it in mind. You’re paying a lot of money out in one go and you might feel as though this is a make or break moment. It isn’t. You can always take more lessons or reschedule them if needs be.

You may not encounter all the weather conditions in the space of a few weeks that you will over a few months or year. For example, if you take an intensive driving course during the summer break, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be driving in the cold or through snow and ice! Whereas learning to drive in the winter when it’s cold, dark and raining, will at least better prepare you for those conditions further down the line.

A few things to look out for

To coin a phrase, you thought you’d never hear again… do your homework, or research, as it’s known at uni. As with any driving course, you should make sure that you choose the driving school and instructor which you think and feel best suits your needs and budget. Don’t rush in and take up the first course you see advertised, or because it has a great price; the instructor and time frame may not be right for you.

Look out for green or pink

Make sure that you’re learning with a “qualified and approved driving instructor (ADI)” or a trainee driving instructor. By law, all driving instructors have to display a badge in their windscreen to prove that they’re registered with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). They’ll either have a green badge which means that they’re a qualified driving instructor, or a pink badge which means that they’re a trainee driving instructor.

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