Top tips for:
- Joining the University
- Support from Student Wellbeing
- Managing with academic work
- The campuses
- Making friends and disclosing your disability
Joining the University
- Make sure you know what you need when you come to register e.g. self-identification documents. If you have this all ready when you register, you can complete it there and then and not have to come back another time.
- If you find standing in queues difficult because of your disability, let Student Wellbeing know and they can fast track you for registration.
- If you like busy environments go to the Freshers Fair as there is lots of interesting information and such a diverse range of people. It is like a little but very busy village!
- Be prepared to be in a busy environment on campus. For example, going from a small sixth form to a place where there are 1000s of people can be a bit daunting but also exciting!
Support from Student Wellbeing
- It can be helpful to speak to Student Wellbeing before you start studying at the University. This is really reassuring as you know who your contact is going to be and the type of support that can be put in place and also start to get some strategies in place for managing at uni.
- Get a Study Needs Agreement from Student Wellbeing. It is vital as it gives you the support you need e.g. extra time in exams and tests.
- Student Wellbeing are fantastic and are always available.
- There is such a range of services available from Student Wellbeing.
- They can really prop you up when you need it and give you confidence and a stronger foundation to work from.
- If you are eligible for Disabled Students’ Allowance try to get this sorted before you start at uni. The assessment is really helpful to think through the support you will get and coping strategies. It puts your mind at rest.
- If things aren’t going well or you come across things that are more difficult to manage than you thought (because of your disability) go back and speak to Student Wellbeing again. They can change your agreement or put new support in place for you at any time.
Managing with academic work
- At the start of the year it can sometimes be shocking how much there is to do and getting used to the new structure (or lack of it!) You might have lots of choice that you are not used to as well as making friends.
- Don’t worry if in the first couple of weeks you are a bit shell shocked by the shear amount of information you receive!
- You are expected to do a lot more study in your own time than at school and this can involve a lot of reading.
- Try to plan this into your day and be quite strict or it can be easy to get distracted by other things such as going out with friends.
- Also remember to use any specialist support and/or technology you can get from Disabled Students’ Allowance e.g. reading software and mind mapping. This really helps.
- Use a recording device when you can to help you remember all the information you are given in lectures and don’t be afraid to ask questions (if not during the lecture, afterwards).
- If you are not used to using different software and technology spend some time getting to know your way around Canvas (the virtual learning environment). Practice lots and blow any frustrations into a cup of tea!
- It doesn’t always happen but sometimes lecturers might forget you have a Study Needs Agreement from Student Wellbeing and that you need adjustments. If ever this happens to you speak out. Student Wellbeing will help you to sort this – don’t feel you have to confront your lecturers yourself.
- Don’t worry if you don’t get great marks right at the start of your course. You are unlikely to be on the your own and sometimes this is a great opportunity for lecturers to show students where they are going wrong so they can do better next time.
- The University is a big place and maps are not always easy to follow. It can take a while to get used to finding different rooms in different buildings but stick with it and it won’t be a problem.
- If you have any problem finding an accessible route from A to B or if things go wrong (e.g. a lift breaks down) speak to Student Wellbeing and they will help. Sometimes the accessible routes and entrances are not always obvious (until you know about them of course!)
- If you need accessible / level routes around the campuses try to get some visits in before you start on your course. Also leave yourself plenty of time when you start going to lecturers, just in case that path you thought was flat actually has steps or is up a steep hill!
Making friends and disclosing your disability
- University is a great place to make friends as you meet so many new people e.g. in your lectures, group work and also if you carry out part-time work.
- You don’t have to go to clubs / bars if you don’t want to and can meet people other ways.
- You don't have to disclose your disability to friends if you don’t want to. But, if you do feel comfortable doing so it can be a lovely support network.
- Friends can really help you through when things are difficult - whether it be work, personal issues or even classwork! Often you will find that other students are experiencing the same difficulties and frustrations as you and you can vent it out together.