Campus: Treforest, University of South Wales
I am a mature student studying Psychology starting my second year of the course.
How did you feel about starting Uni? What were you excited about?
I was excited to learn about my subject and have conversations with fellow students about common interests. I like many aspects of university and how it is different from secondary education. When studying we are expected to follow a pattern but can generate our own research and present our own conclusions. I feel that this is a much more independent way of studying and that it prepares students for the ‘real world’ in many ways.
What were you worried about?
I was worried about my career and thinking about how I would tie in my degree to relevant work experience. I was constantly thinking about what would happen after I finish the degree and how I would be best prepared to get a job which ties in with my studies.
What helped you to cope?
Friends helped me cope. At first, I felt a bit isolated because I came into the course two weeks late, so many people had gotten to know each other already and form groups. But I went out of my comfort zone and began making small talk to my classmates during the brakes and slowly we began to form friendships and see each other outside of University. Having friends is one of the things which helped me cope as I saw people going through similar struggles such as myself and it made me feel like I belonged. It is also important to select your friends, keeping in mind that the habits and actions of your friends will most certainly rub off on you, so try to avoid people who will drag you into trouble.
What advice would you give to a Fresher starting this year?
Treat it as a job, take personal responsibility for your own workload and your studies. Make sure you put in effort every single day and try not to procrastinate. I see many students who do no work and then get stressed as they try to meet the deadlines within a few days. Form a schedule and routine around your studies, leave time for friends and hanging out, but do not overdue your social life or your study. Maintaining a healthy balance is key and it is something which will prepare you for later life in many ways. The extent to which you take personal responsibility for your situation and work everyday on your own progress will determine your success in later life. Make clear what you consider to be success and failure on your own terms and aim for success, because keeping your ambitions vague is the difference between having dreams and goals.
How do you feel about going back to Uni in September?
I feel quite confident because I spent a part of my summer going over the material and studying. The good thing about University is that you do not only have to rely on textbooks. I found plenty of books written by contemporaries in my field who can give life to the material. It was genuinely engaging going through some of their work and it has made me prepared to engage better with the material in September.
Do you have any tips to help students that feel worried about going to Uni?
Take incremental steps and try not to fall back into old habits. I moved to the UK at the age of 16 and started A-Levels in London. I was not a good student prior to this and made a vow that I would start studying and take school seriously. This did not work, because although I had the will to change, my habits remained the same. I would come home after school and not study, playing video games instead for most of my day. What helped me change my habits is going to work and realizing the commitment I have to myself and other people. When I went back into University I made sure that I would study every single day and take my assignments seriously, changing my habits changed my results.
What attracted you to the Steps to Student Wellbeing project?
I wanted to become involved in psychological education which attempts to improve the experience of fellow students.
What do you think the benefits of the project might be for students?
What we do here in University is particularly important because it forms the building block for the rest of our careers and working lives. Therefore, helping students form self-awareness and giving them the tools to work on improving their experience is vital.
Would you encourage other students to get involved? Would you recommend the project?
I would encourage students to get involved by practicing some of the techniques and considering their own experience and how they can relate to others for the purpose of making a better future.