Where can you find support at university?

In University by Think Student EditorLeave a Comment

Starting university can be overwhelming. After all, you are probably moving away from home and entering a whole new environment! Even if you are not moving away, you will still be exposed to new surroundings, with a load of new people. This can be frightening for many students, especially if they are used to the bubbles of their high schools, sixth forms or colleges. However, luckily, there is support for students at university! This is presented in a range of different ways, allowing all students to have their needs met.

When you first begin university, you may be provided with a couple of individuals who are personally there to help you. For example, you could be provided with a peer mentor. All students are likely to be given a personal tutor. Universities also often have groups in place to offer general support, such as mental health teams. There’s plenty of other support offered that you might not know about, for everything from finances, to looking for accommodation, to the university social life.

You can find out more about where you can find support at university and which kind of support you should be looking for if you check out the rest of this article!

Which individuals will directly support you at university?

If you are in your first year at university, you may be assigned a peer mentor. This depends on the course you are completing and the university you are studying at. However, universities are now realising how beneficial the peer mentoring scheme really is.

After all, a peer mentor is often someone completing the same course as you but who are in their second or third year. This means that they will know exactly how you are feeling in your first year!

Consequently, they may be able to give you specific advice if you are struggling with anything. This includes problems which are just related to student life and not your studies at all. You can find out more about peer mentoring in general if you check out this article from the University of Manchester.

You will also be given a personal tutor who will support you throughout your whole time at university. Personal tutors are academic individuals who are often part of the staff involved in your course.

They will have individual meetings with you and may also have group meetings with other students. Personal tutors are there to check in with you and make sure that you are coping with university life. They can also support you academically and answer any questions specific to the university, which your peer mentor may not know.

In my experience, personal tutor meetings are often very casual and end up just being like conversations with a friend. Therefore, there is no need to worry about them! You may be given the opportunity to message your personal tutor whenever you need anything too.

In my experience, we used Microsoft Teams to do this. You can find out more about the specific role of a personal tutor if you check out this article from the University of Greenwich.

Where can you find academic support at university?

As already stated, your personal tutor will often be able to give you academic support, as they are familiar with the course that you are completing. However, if you are struggling with specific modules, it may be beneficial to speak to your individual lecturers.

Lecturers are often happy to answer any queries you may have over email. They often also have specific drop-in sessions throughout the week, specifically giving students time to come and visit them if they have any questions.

This was extremely useful to me when I didn’t get the best mark in my first university essay! I organised a meeting with the lecturer of the module and she was happy to give me feedback and some tips on how to do better next time – and I did do better!

Therefore, don’t be scared to reach out for academic support. Universities often have dedicated library teams also to help students with skills such as essay writing and referencing.

Often, you are able to book meetings with academic skills teams or librarians to help you with specific tasks. Make sure you check out what’s available to you next time you go to the university library! You can find out about the Academic Skills Team at Newcastle University if you check out this article from their website.

Where can you find mental health support at university?

Looking after your mental health is important – especially when you are faced with the stress of looming deadlines or a heavy workload. Luckily, universities are prepared for supporting student’s mental health.

Many universities have dedicated mental health support teams. These teams can meet with students individually and help them to put support plans into place if they are struggling.

These teams contain individuals who are specially trained and qualified to deal with students who may be struggling mentally. You can find out more about an example of the role of a mental health support team at university if you check out this article from the University of Bath.

Different schools within the university may also has specific individuals dedicated to supporting students within that school. These individuals are often called wellbeing advisors and are also involved in making support plans and helping students to navigate their time at university despite maybe struggling with mental health issues.

You can find out more about how to get mental health support at university in general if you check out this article from UCAS.

Where can you find financial support at university?

When students start university and become completely in charge of their finances, they may become slightly overwhelmed. After all, budgeting and managing your money can be quite difficult – especially if you haven’t done it before!

Therefore, universities are often equipped with financial support teams, who can offer students advice on how to budget and make the most out of your student loans. They may also be able to identify any bursaries you may be eligible for and offer support if you are in debt.

You can find out more about financial support teams if you check out this article from the University of Reading as an example. If you are really struggling financially, it may be a good idea to see what your university is able to provide you with.

For example, at Newcastle University, there is a small food bank in the SU building, allowing students who are struggling to afford food to get some lunch. This university also has initiatives in place, such as £1 lunches at selected cafés on campus.

Make sure to check out if your university has similar schemes! If you want some tips on how to budget as a student, check out this article from Think Student.

Where can you find accommodation support at university?

Living away from home for the first time can be daunting and you may be unfamiliar with the application process to get accommodation. Therefore, universities often have teams in place who specifically give students advice on how to get accommodation.

These teams can also help you to understand any contracts which is useful, as trust me, contracts can be confusing! These accommodation teams are invaluable when you have to look for accommodation after the first year, as this process can definitely feel a little overwhelming.

When you are living in university owned halls of residence, there are also accommodation service teams put in place who can support you specifically during your time in halls. You can contact them if you have any maintenance issues or any questions about your stay.

You can find out more about the accommodation service teams involved with halls of residence if you check out this article from the University of Northampton. You can also discover information about university accommodation in general in this article from Think Student.

Where can you find social support at university?

A large aspect of university is the social life. Some students go into university completely focused on academics, which of course is important. However, being sociable can almost be seen just as important.

After all, many students can end up being lonely if they are not being social enough and this could, in turn, have a negative impact on their studies. This means that making friends and making sure that you are getting out of your room and spending time with them is essential.

If you live in a flat with other university students, this is a great initial way to get social support. Your flat mates can be seen as your ready-made friends (as long as they don’t steal your food!), so make sure that you spend time with them.

Another great way to feel socially supported is by joining societies. During your first year, many people recommend you join as many societies as possible, as this is when you will have the most time to.

This will result in you making friends who have similar interests to you and as most societies meet up every week, you will always have a social function to go to! Therefore, if you feel that you don’t have many friends at university, making yourself get out there and join some societies is a great idea.

If you want to find out more about university societies, check out this article from Think Student.

How can you get support for university examinations?

Unfortunately, when you go to university, the part of your life where you had to sit exams is not yet over. If you find that you are struggling with them, it may be best to talk to your personal tutor about why this is. If you want some tips on how to deal with stress at university, check out this article from Think Student.

If you had access arrangements in high school to help you with exams, these will still be available to you. However, you need to make sure that you apply for them! There is often a specific deadline for this, so make sure that you check this out for your university.

During examinations, universities are able to offer certain individuals support such as extra time or breaks. You can find out about these arrangements in more detail if you check out this article from the University College London website.

How can you get disability support at university?

If you have a disability, do not let this discourage you from applying to university! This is because universities will actually have disability teams in place, specifically to help those students with disabilities.

As already stated, students with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia can be given access arrangements during exams. However, if you have a physical disability, these disability teams will make sure that you are always accommodated for.

For example, if you are in a wheelchair, your timetable will only ever direct you to lecture theatres with ramps and you will always have access to lifts. Disability teams will provide you with any resources that you may need to make university life easier for you.

Further to this, they will alert you to any bursaries that you may be entitled to as a consequence of your disability. You can find out more about disability teams if you check out this article from the University of York as an example.

What do you do if you are struggling at university?

Sometimes students can be struggling so much at university that they even consider dropping out. This is obviously a big decision, so make sure that you think carefully before making any final choices. If you do want to discover what dropping out of university involves, check out this article from Think Student.

If you are struggling financially, mentally or with any issues regarding your accommodation, make sure that you notify the relevant teams already discussed. However, if it is a more general problem you are struggling with, consider setting up a meeting with your personal tutor.

Universities don’t want you to struggle! They want to help you be the best that you can be, so don’t be scared to reach out.

Remember to not neglect your family also! Calling your parents, favourite aunt or strange uncle may be just the thing you need to help you get through a rough time. Perhaps call your friends from home too!

My friends and I have a weekly group call which is great for checking in on each other! Just make sure that you don’t struggle too much before reaching out for help.

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