Do you struggle with money, diet, thinking about your future, your health, family, studies… or anything else? At some point during your degree, I’m sure you will have, or will do. Everyone does, it’s normal! At a time of stress it is important to realise that you don’t have to go through these challenges alone. There are people around you to help when you need them.
Here, I will discuss the options you have if you’re ever feeling stressing about some of the student problems most of us will face. There’s a huge amount of information here, so don’t necessarily try to take in everything straight away – why not bookmark this page and then you can come back when you need help and aren’t sure where to go?
Academic support is crucial at university to help you to achieve your best possible grade and give you the best boost into the future that your course can provide. This, after all, is the main aim of university. Your lecturers, seminar leaders, tutors, heads of school… well every member of teaching staff employed by the University is here to help you get your best possible mark – so make use of them! Many departments have an open-door policy, meaning that you can always knock on anyone’s door and if they’re in they will try to help you on the spot. Even if this isn’t the case in your department, you can always schedule a meeting time by simply emailing whoever you want to see.
If something in your personal life is affecting your ability to perform to your best potential, you may be eligible for mitigating circumstances. Contact your academic advisor in the first instance (your School Administrator should be able to tell you who your advisor is, if you’re not sure); the Student Union also has some helpful information about the process.
Also check out the MLE resources provided by the library. The online resources can help you with everything from referencing to searching and structuring for essays or literature reviews. For a more hand-on approach, the workshops provided as part of the MLE programme can help you develop the skills you need to get a great degree, and at one to one drop-in sessions you can talk face-to-face with an advisor to get individual help with your assignments.
Finances are difficult even for the most experienced people. As students, though, a lot of us haven’t had to worry about the cost of a food shop or a TV license before, and it doesn’t help that most of us get given a huge wad of money at the start of the semester in the form of a student loan. If you realise you are beginning to struggle with paying bills or buying equipment you need for class, don’t hesitate to approach the Student Union’s financial advice service. They are trained in helping students budget efficiently, find part time jobs and claim grants from the government or university. All of these factors will help lift that burden and hopefully allow you to lead a financially stable life throughout your degree, which makes it one less thing to worry about.
You can also get financial advice from the Student Support and Advice Team, located in the Atrium (first floor of University Place). They write a blog and tweet about tips and events at the uni (@UoM_Support). They also offer you a free account with BlackBullion – an award-winning company providing online resources and software to help you manage your money and become more finance-savvy. The University of Manchester Students’ Union is also always there to help you out. If you need an emergency loan they can lend you up to £100, or if you’re having longer-term difficulties then their Hardship Fund might be able to help you out. Either way, they’re a great source for advice and support.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Research into the true level of student stress and mental health issues is still a very broad area of study, but it’s very common for university students to experience stress and mental health issues. You can find support for this; don’t suffer in silence. The Counselling Service website provides a lot of helpful lifestyle tips, from being active and eating healthily to actively looking for the positive things in life. Check out Silvercloud, an online self-help tool for students that uses clinically proven tools to identify key problems and offers programmes of activity to help you overcome them. If you need one-to-one support, you can always talk through any issue face-to-face or on the phone with someone who is trained to help, but who can also just be there to listen.
There are also many external options to help you through a tough time. Nightline is a listening service run by students for students, so they’re great people to talk to if you’re struggling. The helpline providers are trained to deal with issues such as domestic violence, depression, bereavement and most other mental issues, and they won’t be shocked by anything you say. “A problem shared is a problem halved” isn’t a saying for no reason; airing your problems, even to a complete stranger, may help you get them off your chest.
The Future and Careers
The future is a scary topic for most students. Most of us hear the same questions when we go home to visit our families: What are you doing next? What are your career plans? A Masters degree in 18th century Russian crime fiction? How is that going to help you get a job? And various other questions which can send students into a panic because, honestly, a lot of us have no idea how to answer any of them. The Careers Service, located in the Atrium (first floor in University Place), offers guidance on your options for your next step, graduate schemes, applying for internships, postgraduate degrees and more. They can set up a meeting for you to talk one-to-one with a careers advisor who is trained specifically for your department meaning they know all the up to date information in the job market for your subject. They also have a whole range of online support, resources and useful tips on how to best plan your future, no matter what stage of your degree or application process you’re at. The list of common skill-based interview questions is especially helpful: not just when you’re preparing for an interview but also when you’re thinking about what skills you have and what might need more development.
Also on CareersLink you can find information about upcoming career and postgraduate fairs which are happening around the area, not to mention vacancies for part-time and full-time jobs. Throughout the year the Careers Service are also on Twitter (@ManUniCareers) and publishing blog posts aimed at helping you plan your future which you should find useful. Using all the help the Careers Service provides should make your path clearer and more focused.
Health and Fitness
The best asset to help you with any health-related issues is the NHS. Walk-in centres offer free, no booking, confidential appointments most days of the year. The nearest one to university is just five minutes away, at the Manchester Royal Infirmary. At a walk-in centre you can go in with any ailment from cuts and bruises, pains, sexual health, mental health and everything else you’d go to a normal doctor with. You should also register with a GP – the Student Union has advice on how to go about this. The University also offers Wellbeing Rooms for staff and students to use to help relaxation and keeping fit. These are closely linked with the Counselling Service, who run events there. Also, don’t forget that there’s a huge number of university sports clubs you can join – you can usually become a member at any time of the year, so don’t worry if you forgot to join in September!
There’s a lot of info in this blog post, so here’s a summary of where to go for help!
- Your faculty/school – for academic support or information about mitigating circumstances.
- The Student Advice and Support Service – for general help, if you’ve got a few complicated issues, or if you’re just not sure where to start!
- The Student Union – for impartial, confidential advice on mitigating circumstances, financial advice or assistance and how to register with a GP.
- The Careers Service – for work and future-planning support.
We hope you’ve found this useful! Feel free to comment, tweet or email us if you have any questions!
By Joe from the Student Team