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

How to Handle the Summer Break

I’m not writing this post to make you feel as though your summer break must be used to complete 2 internships, 2 months of traveling, a stint of volunteering and to learn a new skill. All whilst attending all of the hottest festivals and keeping an enviable Instagram presence. Your summer is yours and there is no wrong way to use it.

However, the summer break at university is a unique period of ‘time off’ you will likely never experience again in your life. So, the purpose of this blog post is simply to encourage you to do whatever you like with your summer – just do it with intention and awareness.

If you don’t work or only work a few hours each week and will be moving home for summer, you may be faced with a mountain of options. Do one, do them all, or do none. That’s fine. Your summer will only feel wasted if you do something you didn’t want to do. If you want to sleep in until noon, binge watch Netflix and enjoy a slower pace of life…that’s fine. If that makes you feel good, go for it.

If that doesn’t make you feel good, and you’re keen to protect your mental wellbeing as a result of that, then you could set some small, achievable goals for the summer and replace each one as you complete it. For example, you may want to be able to run 5 miles, or want to save up £500, or learn to sew your own clothes. You might want to travel to visit 3 friends in 3 different cities or sign up to volunteer in a local charity shop or children’s summer club.

You might, like me, be a mature student and have to work a lot through the summer each year. Fear not – I still take on board my own advice listed above! I set a few small goals, book in plenty of overtime so that I can enjoy a more relaxed budget for the summer months and also make sure to plan in plenty of fun things that would normally be difficult to manage when trying to work, study AND attend university. I also try to think ahead to how I can make semester 1 easier for myself when I return to university. For me, this means booking any time off work that I might need to accommodate assignments, arranging a weekend away somewhere nice before Christmas to unwind, and, most importantly, saving up some money whilst I can work more to ease the financial pressure when I go back to university in the autumn.

There is no wrong way to use your summer break, as long as what you do is making you feel happy then that is fine. Don’t let the carefully edited highlights that you see on your peers’ social media platforms get to you!

Sam xo

Mini Mood Boosters

The world is in a time of real crisis and it has been a tough, confusing week in the UK. I have been sharing some mini mood boosters on my personal social media channels and in various WhatsApp conversations with friends in order to help us all through this. This weekend, it dawned on me that these would be perfect for overwhelmed students at exam/assignment submission time! Take the phrase ‘Exam Season’ out of each one and replace it with whatever tough, overwhelming situation you find yourself in.

Write an ‘Exam Season Bucket List’

It’s a tough and stressful time but you can still find some joy in it and ensure you stay organised. For example, you may now be sat down indoors a lot to study and read. Why not vow to take your skincare more seriously by doing regular face masks and forgoing makeup? Other things could be: creating a brilliant playlist, gathering some good reading on XYZ topic as you study, making a list of XYZ resources for future assignments, getting into the habit of drinking more water, finally mastering Harvard referencing…

Write an ‘I can’t wait to…’ list

I have done this since I did my A-Levels 7 years ago! You know the scene, you are sat revising or typing an essay and you notice it is a gorgeous day. Your mind fills with all of the things you would rather be doing. You think about how much you miss going out for cocktails or having lazy days on the grass with a picnic. How much you miss reading for pleasure and not for research. Write all of these things down! Having a list of things I am going to do when I come out of assignment season makes all of the difference to my motivation.

Find your Small Joys

Have a little collection of small things that bring you joy at these times. This could be photos, quotes and poems that inspire or motivate you or it could be websites or social media accounts that you can always go back to for a pick-me-up. For example, I love watching the 24 hour live streams that zoos like Chester, Edinburgh and Melbourne broadcast for free online. Instant mood boosts that are tailored to you!

Sam xo

Finding Part-time Work…On Campus!

Before I started my degree, I was working full-time. As I live with my boyfriend and not with family I have to support myself independently, so at an absolute minimum, I knew one part-time job would be necessary to get me through my degree.

I now work as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities and the shifts fit around my studies perfectly, not to mention the fact that it’s one of the most rewarding roles in the world! However, from time to time I find myself missing the creativity of my old career in marketing and I often find myself needing an extra injection of cash when the student loan runs low. So, I work for Edge Hill!

That’s right, there are opportunities for students to work in all kinds of roles all over our beautiful campus – even if you don’t live in halls. I work as Digital Content Assistant, covering events and creating content such as Instagram stories for the university, as well as writing for this blog every month. These little creative outlets bring me so much joy and give me peace of mind that some extra money is coming in when times get tough.

You can check out the latest jobs on campus here or look further afield for work off-campus and around Ormskirk or the surrounding areas here. If you need support with your application forms, cover letters or CV then you will find instructions on how to access all of that here. Good luck!

Sam xo

Productivity for Procrastinators

I have several part-time jobs outside of my full-time degree so I often have a lot going on. My grades are good and my performance at work doesn’t slip, so people assume I must be really organised and productive. I am not.

Naturally, I am infuriatingly prone to procrastination and have a horrible habit of leaving things until time is running out as a result of this. So, in today’s post, I will let you in on my secrets to getting stuff done and looking productive when really you are a procrastinator.

  1. Pomodoro Technique

In this technique, you choose a task you are going to focus on, set a timer for 25 minutes and then solidly work on that task and nothing else. After 25 minutes, you stop and take a five-minute break before setting the timer again. After four blocks of 25 minutes, you take a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes. Then you start again. The permission to get distracted in small bursts and the promise of a decent break gets you right into ‘the zone’! Just make sure you stick to the timings no matter what.

If you type ‘pomodoro’ into your app store, you will find lots of apps that will do the timings for you.

2. Get specific

I’m not going to tell you that writing lists is helpful because we all know that by now, but HOW we write these lists can be the difference between making progress and giving up and watching TV all day. Break big tasks into small, specific parts e.g. instead of ‘write research module essay’ you would have ‘read research module handbook, decide on points to make in research essay, write essay plan and send to tutor’ or perhaps even more specific tasks.

3. Star Tasks

You’ve got your specific list with really clear achievable tasks, so now pick your star tasks. Being really specific will actually make your to-do lists LONGER, so picking three to five star tasks per day to highlight or have on a separate list. These should be the things you need to get done as a priority. Get them crossed off first and you will often feel spurred on to crack on with the rest of the list. If you don’t feel that way? That’s fine, the most important stuff is done for the day! Take a break and see how you feel after.

Sam xo