University can be a time of change, adventure, excitement, enrichment, reflection, new horizons and new relationships. However, many people can also experience difficulties, perhaps struggling to adapt to university life, or finding themselves isolated, sometimes struggling to cope with a university workload or struggling with the breakdown of a relationship. Often, access to the right support can make all the difference and help someone to enjoy their university experience.
At HOPELINEUK we receive calls from students who are experiencing anxiety about university. They can feel alone and overwhelmed, left wondering how they will cope. A lot of young people can think of suicide. At HOPELINEUK we would advise “you are not alone” – this feeling is common. With the right support you can get through it.
If it’s your first time living away from home, having to adult can be daunting. On top of this, you might be anticipating years of study and assessment. But you aren’t alone. Here are some things you can do to help yourself to a positive start, even if things are already under way:
Speak to other students. Look at The Student Room and ask fellow students for advice or tips about the journey through uni life. Many of them would have been there already, others will be in the same boat as you. Don’t be scared to reach out to them – there are others out there who are looking to connect.
Connect with your university on social media. Look at what they are saying on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You might want to ask questions or find out about events that will be on. There will probably already be Facebook groups set up for like-minded people or halls of residence.
Decide what you need to have for university. You want to be prepared, but remember that some halls or private rented accommodation might provide things like a kettle or a microwave. If your budget is tight, prioritise what you will need over what you want – bedding is essential, a games console might be a stretch too far! Make a budget of things to buy and crosscheck it with family and friends. You can also check this site.
Don’t forget to include personal items and touches. Perhaps a few photos or decorations will make your room feel like it’s yours. And these sort of items can potentially help with homesickness.
Don’t forget to eat well! Look up some recipes or get a cookery book. If you are well-fed this will add to your happiness and enjoyment. Cooking can also help you to build friendships with other students. If you want to save some money and time, you can always cook in bulk and freeze your food. Of course, it helps to make a shopping list and do a regular shop as this will prevent you from overspending.
Set up a student bank account. You’ll need this for your student finance but it’s also good to have the options, and incentives, a student bank account can offer. Check out all the accounts out there.
Make a rough budget. It can seem boring, but when you reach the second semester you might be grateful for the budgeting you’ve done so far. This page might help. There will always be costs that you do not take into account, like accommodation or transport (or even travelling back home for the holidays). A budget can also help you identify places you can pick up student discounts, like student travel cards.
Seek out the best entertainment for you. From fresher’s week to club subscriptions, student nights to gigs, fancy dress to sports, cinema visits to a quick coffee with friends – the cost of socialising can soon mount up. Allocate yourself a certain amount for fun and try not to go over it. Being sociable doesn’t have to be expensive – nights in with housemates, free events at your university or two-for-one cinema nights are all money-saving options. Student-specific discount websites such as TOTUM and Student Beans offer deals.
Make use of tutors. Get to know your tutors if it’s possible. That way, you can ask them for help if you feel overwhelmed at any point. They might have lived experience that they can draw on. Or they could signpost you on to sources of information or specialised support. It’s their job to support you. So reach out to them.
Get organised. Find out what you are studying and when, identify when your deadlines are going to fall and how much of your assessment will be exams, how much will be coursework. Looking into this and making a few plans will help you to feel in control.
Be honest with yourself about how you really feel. If going to university fills you with dread, and you feel uncertain, speak to someone. It could be your family and friends, the welfare service at your university, you could use the Universities Nightline service if they have one (or consider setting one up). It’s also a good idea to try and make sure you are registered with a GP.
If you are at struggling with suicidal thoughts at university, or if you are worried about a fellow student who is struggling with thoughts of suicide, you can contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUKfor advice and support on 0800 068 41 41, via text on 07786209697 or via email on email@example.com