On August 13th, around 300,000 pupils across England, Wales, and Northern Ireland will discover their fate in regard to their A-Levels, finding out whether they’ve been granted a place at their first choice university, or embarking on the Clearing journey using the UCAS clearing app.
Of course, this would usually be a stressful time, as you’d be unaware of how you’ve performed but this year is slightly different in that you never even got to take the exams in the first place. Instead, grades are being calculated based on a formal calculation carried out by their teachers.
Once students learn of their future on August 13th, it’s less that a month for some before they embark on higher education.
With this in mind, Sue Broadbent, Assistant Director for Student Life and Wellbeing at Northumbria University, has offered the following hints and tips for students who may be feeling anxious about how university life will be as campuses start to reopen.
It’s important to pace yourself
While many people are eager to feel a sense of normality again, the prospect of a ‘new normal’ may bring some new anxieties. Covid-19 has impacted on many of the normal coping strategies we use to deal with stress and lockdown created a safe bubble for many in their own homes.
The threat of bursting that bubble can make people feel nervous. Gradually build things up at a pace that suits you and feel confident that your university will be working incredibly hard to make life on campus as safe as it can.
Connect with other people
Good relationships are important and help you build a sense of belonging and provide emotional support. Take time each day to be with friends or family, either in person or using technology such as Zoom or FaceTime. Prior to heading off to university, check online to see if there is any way to connect with the people who’re living in your halls.
Be physically active
Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, evidence shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by raising your self-esteem and causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood. You don’t need to join a gym. Going for a run or walk, riding a bike, or even dancing will keep you fit. Similarly, however, you could get two benefits for the price of one if you were to sign up to a university sports club — not only can you get yourself into shape, you’ll also get the opportunity to meet new people too.
Learn new skills
Picking up new skills can improve your mental wellbeing by boosting your self-confidence and helping you to connect with others. Take time to do something that interests you, such as learning to cook, taking up a sport or hobby, learning a language, or even practical skills through DIY projects. Are any of your new housemates skilled in anything that you aren’t? Perhaps they could teach you a skill and you could return the favour.
Give to others
Acts of giving and kindness can improve your mental wellbeing by creating positive feelings and a sense of reward. You could offer to volunteer in your local community, help a friend with a project, or even just spend time with people who need support or company. Charity shops are always looking for help so take a look and see if there’s any near by that you could lend your help to. Alternatively, your university will, undoubtedly point you in right direction of someone you’d be able to go and help, whether that be a charity shop or a local project.
Paying attention to the present moment can help you to enjoy life more and better understand yourself. It is easy to rush through and stop noticing the world around us. Being mindful to your own thoughts and feelings and the world around you can positively change the way you feel about your life and how you approach challenges.
Going to university can be a daunting experience and thanks to the current situation there is no denying that it will be even stranger. However, by employing some of the tips demonstrated by Sue Broadbent, you can ensure that your transition into university life is as smooth as possible!