Off The Record would like to wish you all the best at university!
We hope university will be an exciting and positive experience for you but we also recognise that fresh starts can bring new challenges. Some anxiety is natural but if you start to feel particularly stressed or low then support is available.
Top tips for coping while at university:
Meet new people
Making friends can feel daunting but utilising your Student Union and Fresher's week can be a good way to break the ice and meet new people. There will usually be a Freshers' Fair when you join that advertises all the extra-curricular clubs and societies available at the university. Having a structured, weekly activity can be a great way to not only build connections but have something to look forward to each week. Many universities publish Freshers' Week schedules on their websites or on the Students' Union website. Unions sometimes also advertise paid work experience around the university and there are often financial discounts in local shops and businesses if you belong to the union, so it is worth checking their website out.
Start a new routine
Try to establish some routine in the run up to starting university and when you get there, this can be grounding when dealing with a lot of change. That could be working on your sleep patterns or having a regular activity you do every morning / evening or weekend; like going for a walk, going to the gym or a favourite coffee shop, cooking dinner once a week with other people in your dorm etc. Creating some structure can help make all the changes feel more manageable.
Stay in touch
To cope with any homesickness or anxiety about being away from home, it can be helpful before you go to schedule phone calls, Zoom or online catch up's with friends and family in advance and put them in a calendar because when you start at university, all the new changes can feel overwhelming and it can be hard to find time to sync up with people back home. So, having those catch up's already planned for the first few weeks can help you to feel connected still. Of course, still reach out whenever you need to but these dates are also there to stay in touch with people.
Get financial help
Most universities should also have a financial and careers Support team (sometimes called other names but same job) who can help with any issues around budgeting, finding work, renting, managing bills etc. There are often scholarships and bursaries or other financial support on top of student loans that universities might offer and there should be information about this on their websites.
All universities have student support services that usually offer medical, academic and emotional support (including counselling). Some universities have their own GP surgery and/or allocated pharmacy, find out what’s available in your university and register with them soon after you arrive so you have a local doctor to go to if needed.
Although Off the Record can’t offer face to face emotional support to people outside Croydon, Sutton or Merton, our website has lots of useful information including if you need help now, and if you need support during the transition to University and have a permenant address in one of the three boroughs above, you can speak to one of our online counsellors here: https://talkofftherecordonline.org as well as a practitioner through our Support Line on 0800 980 7475. The line is open Monday to Friday, 3-6pm and Saturdays, 10am-1pm.
There may also be a young people’s service like Off the Record in your university area, have a look on Youth Access - if not, there’s self-help advice available at Student Minds’ website, The Mix and Students Against Depression.
Monday - Friday, 3-6pm; Saturdays, 10am-1pm