University Tips Blog
Image of a student holding hands out and thinking about their future
A headshot image of the author, Emma Berwick

by Emma Berwick

Current Business with French student at the University of Birmingham

posted on 4 Jan '24

Student voice: why did I go to university?

I chose to go to university because I thought it would be a good opportunity to broaden my horizons and enrich my knowledge. I had enjoyed my A Level subjects, albeit finding them rather challenging, so I felt continuing to university was the right choice for me. Here, I will provide a guide to how I settled in and the things to be aware of whilst you provide support for your young person.

What information would be helpful?

Looking back, there were a few things that I would have appreciated having more information on before going to university. Despite watching lots of videos on YouTube and attending Open Days, I should have asked what the timetable would be like for someone studying my subject and what I could expect from assignments. It was a relief knowing that the assignments were spread out over a couple of weeks and there weren’t too many early starts!

I could also have asked for more information on managing finances and scholarship opportunities. Some universities offer scholarships and bursaries and your young person may need to apply before starting their course.

Tips for starting their course

I also think it’s a good idea once students are at university to familiarise themselves with the different departments across the institution and be aware of what school/department they are part of. Each school has different opportunities and perhaps a separate team of wellbeing officers who make decisions about things like coursework extensions and student support services.

When I started university, I found speaking to older students incredibly helpful. There are lots of Facebook groups where people ask about modules and provide general university advice. Now I’m a student ambassador, I meet more students across the university, and it’s great to hear their words of wisdom. I would strongly recommend attending events, especially freshers’ events which will help your young person settle in.

Organisation is important

As the assignments started appearing, I found that developing a good organisation system was helpful. I found making a list of deadlines on a sheet or paper and adding these to my Google calendar worked well.

The Disabled Students’ Allowance

One thing I would really recommend that students do before they go to university is to check if they are eligible for the DSA (Disabled Students’ Allowance). This enables equipment and specific software to be given to students who have a disability, to help make their learning easier. Applications can take time, so this should be started as soon as possible.

Depending on the student’s situation, if they have been eligible for extra time at sixth form or college, this should be the case at university. If applicable, and judging from my own experience, students are usually allocated a disability adviser who can provide help and support with study adjustments.

If I could make one final suggestion, it would be to regularly check emails. All the opportunities, trips and events are usually sent through email, so it’s really important to stay on top of that!

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