Things Magazines Say You Need for University…That You Definitely Do Not (Part 2)

  1. Fancy Extra Tech

Sure, it might be handy sometimes to have an iPad for in lectures or for quickly jumping online around campus. Maybe even for Netflix sessions with pals. But, it’s definitely not essential! Don’t buy into the clever marketing or feel pressured by the odd student you see in the lecture hall. It’s nothing your average smartphone can’t manage!

2. Excessive stationery

Think about what you will actually be doing on your course. For me, that’s a lot of talking and listening, a small amount of notetaking and then a lot of reading in the library. So – some pens, some paper and plenty of highlighters! Some kind of organiser for my to-do lists and deadlines. Things like rulers, pencils etc? Not so much. 1 pencil case of essentials, a notebook and a folder to organise your notes is likely all you will need. As it runs out you can purchase more in small, affordable chunks.

3. A whole new wardrobe

Sure, you will want some comfy, warm clothes for campus days that make you feel good about yourself and some comfy trainers for getting from A to B. That being said, don’t feel pressured to revamp your entire wardrobe and jump at every 10% student discount. By week 3, I had stopped wearing makeup and was hunting for the comfiest skinny jeans on the market. By December, I was simply after the warmest coat and hottest travel mug that money could buy!

That concludes the second and final part of this mini money-saving series, feel free to add your ideas below and potentially save a new student some serious cash!

Sam x

The Best Things about Studying Counselling and Psychotherapy

I’ve written at length about my feelings around ending my second year at Edge Hill and moving into my third, but it has largely been very general around my academic experience as a whole. One thing I haven’t offered is my unique perspective as a Counselling and Psychotherapy student, so today I’m going to share my favourite things about my experience so far!

  1. Personal development. The change in myself as a person has been enormous, just by taking part in the course. This is different for everyone but I feel so much calmer, self-assured and confident in who I am. The process wasn’t easy, it took a lot of self-reflection and work on myself but the results are incredible.
  2. Professional placement. It feels really daunting to suddenly begin counselling real people in a real setting when you begin the second year of this course, but I am so grateful that it is a required aspect of my degree. Not only is it adding credibility to our qualification, but it also stands us in a brilliant position to gain employment when we graduate.
  3. Renewed sense of purpose. I am fairly confident in the generalisation that every student has moments where they wonder if they can carry on. Deadlines mount up, the work gets hard and life gets in the way sometimes. But, on my course, having that voice in the back of your head that reminds you that you are doing this to help people in need is so, so powerful. Especially when the media is full of stories about declining mental health resources etc.

If you ever have any questions about my specific course, please do feel free to ask! I could talk about it for hours.

Sam x

Staying Connected to your Subject over Summer

University summer breaks can be months long, a blessing in many ways but also a curse if you are studying something that you are passionate about or pursuing your dream career. Taking so long ‘out of the game’ if you are studying a subject where placements etc stop over summer can be incredibly difficult to deal with and can even leave you feeling like you have taken a step back when you return. This might also be true if you are about to start university in September and now have months of nothing after spending a year or maybe more applying and preparing.

So, how can you combat this and stay connected to your subject between years or before starting your course?

  1. Set a reading goal – whether it’s an hour a week or an hour a day, carve out some time to continue reading around your subject.
  2. Find a relevant volunteering role – this could even be online, perhaps a Facebook group linked to your subject requires new moderators?
  3. Start building your contacts – use this time to set up an excellent LinkedIn profile and reach out to some relevant industry professionals or research how people in aspirational positions within your industry got to where they are today.
  4. Research next steps – order some brochures for further postgraduate study, research potential future companies or job profiles, pick out some relevant CPD opportunities for the future…there are so many ways that you can be creating a plan for your future, even if that future is 3+ years away!

Don’t worry about disconnecting from your passion, use this time to explore all the other ways in which you can be growing and learning!

Sam x

Things Magazines Say You Need for University…That You Definitely Do Not (Part 1)

As we move closer to ‘back to school’ season each year, I see an influx of marketing to new students that tries to convince them of all the new and shiny things they will need to have with them when they start university. Some of these things are incredibly expensive and absolutely not necessary, which can put people off altogether. In this two-part series, I am busting some myths!

  1. State of the art computer

You will, of course, need access to a computer or laptop for your assignments but don’t be conned out of hundreds or thousands! Equally, if you are strapped for cash the Catalyst is packed with computers or even Laptop Loans to see you through. Don’t be deterred by financial difficulty and don’t get into debt for something you don’t need.

2. A printer

Similar to point one, you may find life a tad easier with your own printer but honestly? I don’t use mine. I realise what I need to print whilst on campus and pop over to The Hub or the Catalyst and have it in my hand minutes later. Nice to have, not need to have.

3. Expensive text books

The expense of university materials alone can genuinely stop people from applying, so please don’t be deterred. Hold on until you arrive and ask your lecturers which texts you will need constant access to, if any. Most books are only needed for one chapter or for a reference in a few essays. I own a couple that I scribble all over and the rest I borrow from the Catalyst or read online with my Edge Hill credentials!

Sam x

Final year feels…

Earlier this year I wrote a goodbye letter to my second year of university but now, a few months and a global pandemic later, the fears of final year are taking hold.

I now have the looming thoughts of final grades, full time jobs and further study. I know I want to do a Masters but I can never decide on what to study. Should I continue straight onto a Masters? Or should I take a break and get some professional experience?

Speaking of professional experience…will anyone employ me? Should I be doing more now to improve my CV? Should I be volunteering on top of my placement hours, getting mentored, doing more research?

These things all depend on good grades…I’ve done well so far but who knows how I’ll do in third year? How can I possibly manage a dissertation?!

The point of this post is not to actually force you to answer my questions, don’t worry! This is just me showing you that we all get scared. We all feel unsure. But a degree is such a fleeting experience and your university experience is over before you know it. So let’s step back, breathe and enjoy it together. We’ll be okay.

Sam x

It’s okay if…


You don’t know anyone on your course

Those worries of eating lunch alone or being picked last are a thing of the past! It can be really daunting to start university, no matter how old you are, but those social worries of high school and sixth form and can be left behind. Everyone at uni is here to learn and progress so the cliques don’t form in quite the same way. If you do find yourself alone one day – noone would even notice! Grab some treats, find a comfy spot in The Hub and settle in with your headphones or knuckle down in the Catalyst.

You don’t feel ready

Do we ever really feel ready? That niggling doubt that you’re not ready just means you’re about to do something really big and exciting. You’re all in the same boat on that first day on campus, so rest assured that those doubts are just excitement in disguise.

Academia isn’t your strong point

I won’t lie and say that reading, writing and comprehension skills aren’t important for a degree. However, you definitely don’t need to have been top of your class or an A+ student to come to university. Especially not Edge Hill. Student Services and the academic support team in the Catalyst have countless workshops to help you hone your skills and lecturers are on hand for extra support outside of lessons. If you are dedicated and passionate then come on over and join us at Edge Hill – you deserve your dream career and your calling is waiting for you!

Sam x

Top Tips for Applied Health and Social Care Applicants

As I work on the final pieces of coursework to complete my second year at university, I can’t help but notice all of the buzz around interviews and applications. It feels so strange that two years ago I was interviewing at Edge Hill and hoping my application for BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy would be accepted!

When I accepted my offer to study at Edge Hill, my programme leader from the Applied Health and Social Care Department sent out lots of recommended reading and advice to prepare for my course. As a prospective Counselling and Psychotherapy student, one of the recommendations was that we start a journal of thoughts and feelings as this is a big part of our course that forms part of some key assignments. They provided prompts and advice to get us started.

The reading list was admittedly intimidating, but it isn’t intended to be! It’s likely that you have never read academic texts of that nature so please don’t freak out. You will be shown how to read and interpret these in a Study Skills module in semester one. Read the ‘abstract’ of a few papers and make notes, find excerpts and free chapters of your core textbooks online and make notes on those, too. It may differ on other AHSC courses, but I did not buy any books until I got to university in September and clarified which ones would be most useful. They can come at a huge cost so it is best to wait to see what can be borrowed from the Catalyst and which books you will use so frequently that it’s worth buying.

If you are feeling lost or lonely, search ‘Edge Hill Freshers’ on Facebook and put a call out for people starting on your course. We gathered up a few of us and started a group chat that is still used to exchange ideas, deadlines etc two years later. It made a world of difference having some familiar faces to meet up with and walk into the lecture hall with on day one. Some of those people are now my closest friends! For questions on workload, study tips or what kind of assessments to expect I highly recommend searching your course on The Student Room where past and present Applied Health and Social Care students can answer your questions in a casual, neutral space.

Good luck in your application – I might see you around the Health and Social Care building next year!

Sam xo

How to Boost Motivation Levels during Exam/Assignment Season

Annoyingly, I often find myself beginning to lose the motivation to really try during exam/assignment season. The end-of-semester exhaustion sets in and deadlines seem like they will never end. I get tired and feel like I’m wading through mud. This sends me into a cycle of procrastination and kills any productivity.

Luckily, I’ve been like this since sixth form so I can spot the signs and have slowly developed ways to get myself through the slump! Top tips coming right up…

  1. Remember your ‘why’

I go back to the reasons I wanted to study counselling and psychotherapy in the first place and remind myself of why I am on this journey. I want to help people and I want to make a difference to the mental health of as many people as possible. That is my ‘why’!

2. Focus on the end goal

I like to look up potential masters degrees and job titles I would like on websites like Prospects and read up on the entry requirements for them. Remembering the grades and qualifications I will need to reach my goals helps me to focus and gives me something very real to aim for. I also have job alerts set up on Indeed so that every few days I will be emailed a list of vacancies for high level, well-paid jobs that I dream of working my way up to.

3. Plan in some rewards

I always have a little list of things I am going to do or buy after each deadline. At the end of my first year, I had a bag of bath bombs and treats from Lush in my bathroom and each piece of work I completed got me something out of the bag. Handing in my final assignment meant I could have a bath with a facemask and all the luxurious extras and I let myself book some things like hot yoga classes that I had been daydreaming about whilst hunched over desks. Simple but effective!

What do you do to stay motivated?

Sam xo

How to Get the Most out of Student Discounts

  1. If you don’t ask…

Just because a store doesn’t openly advertise a student discount, get into the habit of asking at the till. Many times I have been given a discount just for asking at the till – some retailers will keep it a secret if they know students are likely to shop there regardless!

2. Think outside the box

It’s rare to see a restaurant, takeaway, or cafe offering a student discount but that doesn’t mean your student status won’t save you some major money. Your student ID or NUS card will often get you free or heavily discounted memberships with companies like Taste Card who do 2 for 1 main meals at national chain restaurants and some independents. This can HALF the bill, you would be crazy not to!

Firm favourites like Dominoes also offer fantastic discounts for students, so don’t pay over the odds for your study snacks or hangover cures.

3. Never settle

Different retailers will offer different student discounts, especially online, and they will have different ways of verifying your student status. For ease, have an NUS card but also make sure you are set up with UNiDAYS and Student Beans so that you can grab bargains quickly without having to search frantically for forgotten passwords.

When I’m shopping for something, I check a few different retailers to see who has the best student discount. For example, I was recently purchasing new trainers so I checked with major sports websites had the best student discount before I decided.

With that being said, make sure to Google ‘[insert retailer name] + discount code’ before making a purchase as sometimes the student discount is not the best one available. Although the student codes were the most heavily advertised at 15 to 20%, I actually found a 30% discount code for my trainers on an online forum! If you’re spending a decent chunk of cash, that can really make a difference. Especially on a student budget.

Sam xo

Goodbye, Second Year!

It’s hard to believe that I am writing this with just days remaining of my second year of university and just weeks until my final assignments are due in. The time has flown since I was applying and interviewing for my course two years ago and yet life before my undergraduate degree at Edge Hill feels so far away.

I feel proud of myself for biting the bullet and applying, proud of myself for accepting the offer, and making the decision to leave a career that appeared successful to outsiders looking in and proud of myself for getting through two years of academic study. I have a placement that I love, new friends that I can’t imagine life without and a fire in my belly for all things counselling and psychotherapy.

That pride is damp with sadness, though. Just as I got my teeth sunk into semester 2, it was time for February reading week. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I haven’t been to university since. My course has been delivered online and, as a relational course that isn’t lecture-based, that has been incredibly difficult to adapt to. My placement was forced to close, so I haven’t been able to see my counselling clients for weeks. I look back at my second year and it feels like it never happened. Perhaps selfishly, I feel a great sense of loss and longing for a whole year of my degree that I wish I could replay without this huge global emergency.

However, at times like these, I am reminded of how important it is for the public to have access to adequate mental health services. So, when university life begins to return to normal and my third year Counselling and Psychotherapy journey begins, I will be back with more enthusiasm than ever. I will graduate and be part of an incredible workforce of dedicated mental health professionals, thanks to Edge Hill.

Stay safe,

Sam xo