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

Am I too old to go to uni?

When I decided I wanted to study Counselling and Psychotherapy at university, I was 22. I had just missed admission so I knew that it was going to be over a year until I could begin my course, making me 23 at the point of enrollment. I did the (very basic) maths. Graduating at the age of 26.

Being a serial planner and born worrier, I began to spiral into thoughts of how my future might now go “I want a Master’s, so that would take me to the age of 28…”

A frantic Google search into the possible career paths of a counsellor and how long they can take to become established in fuelled this fire “1 year to find the perfect role, 1 year to train and settle in…I would be 30. What if I want a PhD?! Where do I fit in family or travelling?”

My personal statement sat waiting to be submitted to UCAS and the glossy brochures landed on my doormat. Pictures of young people laughing and joking, advice for school leavers on getting good A-Levels, tips for moving away from home…my heart sank. Another thing to worry about. Not only was I completely overhauling my life and routine, putting my future on hold…I was going to be in a room full of 18-year-olds for three years.

Of course, I was wrong. I was wrong about all of those things.

I am not the oldest on my course and we rarely consider each other’s ages when we learn and spend time together, even when we socialise. My life is not hold – I have moved house, changed (part-time) careers and began a work placement in my dream role of a psychotherapist all whilst studying full-time at Edge Hill. When I graduate, I know I won’t be ‘starting again’, I will simply be continuing my journey.

You are never too old to go to university. Some of my peers came from sixth form, some were parents ready to build a career now their children were in education, some came from professional careers like I did and some came back into education from retirement, having discovered a new calling in life. You are never too old. It is never too late.

Sam xo

Top Tips for your BA (Hons) Counselling and Psychotherapy Interview at Edge Hill

At this time of year, interviews for prospective Counselling and Psychotherapy students have begun at Edge Hill. Two years ago, I was preparing for my interview and found myself frantically searching Google for insider knowledge to no avail.

If you have been offered an interview, you will already have a rough idea of what will be asked but each interview will still be somewhat unique based on the responses you give. So, I’ve pulled together some general advice to get you on the right track.

Spend some time really familiarising yourself with person-centred counselling. In the interview, they will really dig deep to make sure you have understood the model of counselling and will ask your thoughts on it, how you imagine yourself practising it etc. A rehearsed definition won’t be enough, you will need to really be ready to unpick it and discuss it!  Spend some time journaling your ideas around the model and what it means to you beyond simply helping others or making a difference.

As you are researching the model, have a look at some of theory and books surrounding it. Being able to give some examples of what you read and how it made you feel will evidence that you have been preparing and will also better equip you for any counselling specific questions that may come up. Websites like Counselling Tutor will have simplified versions of the theory for you, with references to the books used. However, read carefully as Counselling Tutor covers all models of counselling whereas the Edge Hill course is wholly focussed on person-centred, experiential counselling.

There is also a huge focus on personal development and self-awareness on our course, which means a lot of sharing of emotion and being vulnerable (as well as being open to learning stuff about yourself that shocks you or that you don’t necessarily like). An awareness of this and some consideration of how it will feel to be on that journey with up to 30 other people for 3 years will stand you in good stead in the interview – even if that comes in the form of an honest “I’ll find it really hard but I’m going to do it even when it hurts”.  Again, spending some time exploring this in a journal will help you to form a really clear standpoint that you can confidently and authentically share in the interview.

If you have an interview coming up for this course, or if you are thinking of applying for 2021 entry and beyond, feel free to ask me questions about the interview and/or the course in the comments below!

Sam xo

My 5 Favourite Things About Edge Hill

Spring is upon us and in three short months, my second year at Edge Hill will draw to a close, leaving me facing my third year and final year as an undergraduate. So, I’m feeling quite reflective. List time? List time.

My 5 Favourite Things About Edge Hill

1. The beach!

Studying full time and working in a demanding job, like I do, can get really overwhelming. So, I often take myself off for walks on campus on my breaks or choose the ‘scenic route’ back to my car to try and find some peace. Nestled by the water in Eastern Campus, ‘La Plage’ is a little slice of heaven that gives you the chance to sunbathe or feel sand under your feet and then be back inside for your 2pm lecture.

2. The Arts Centre

I’m a Counselling and Psychotherapy student and I have never lived on campus or even near campus, so I initially dismissed The Arts Centre as a place where art degrees must be taught and where students who lived on campus could watch films at night. Oh, how wrong I was! Everything from theatre to music can be found in The Arts Centre and there are regular live shows from comedians at bargain prices which would ordinarily cost £20-£70 per ticket on their arena tours.

3. Ormskirk

On my course we sometimes have gaps of up to three hours between sessions so, rather than commuting home to turn around and come back, my coursemates and I like to head into Ormskirk and grab brunch. Hopping on the free bus with our Unicards and heading to Wetherspoons if the student finance has run out or getting a delicious brunch and a milkshake at Cobble if we’re feeling a little more ‘flush’ is a great way to catch up and relax.

4. Catalyst

More than just a library, Edge Hill’s Catalyst is open 24/7 and boasts millions of pounds worth of books, computers and digital resources. However, for me, it’s the additional student support you can access via the helpdesk that makes the difference. Money advice clinics, study skills sessions, 1:1 advice on everything from debt and weight loss to essay writing and housing…I could go on.

5. 53.3 Degrees

We’re blessed with an abundance of restaurants, cafes and coffee spots at Edge Hill, including our very own Starbucks, but my favourite is 53.3 Degrees in the Catalyst building. Delicious, fresh coffee with natural light flowing through and gorgeous views of campus…this little coffee shop has everything I need to gather my thoughts and find some headspace.

Have you visited campus yet? Or maybe you’re a current student? What would be on your list?

Sam xo

Ways to Save Money on Campus (Part 2)

Welcome back to part 2 of this mini-series! In part 1 I gave you some tips for getting filling, affordable lunches that also earn you freebies and also explained how to make your coffee addiction work for you. This time, we’ll look at how you can eat and drink on campus when your finances are looking seriously frightful…without any lukewarm sandwiches being carted around in your rucksack!

Staying Hydrated

It’s easy to quickly rack up unnecessary spending at university by grabbing drinks from shops and vending machines, not to mention the excess plastic you can get through by doing this. Get yourself a water bottle and enjoy crisp, cool water from the filtered fountains all over campus!

Staying Full

Studying hard is hungry work and there’s nothing like a study session to get you craving snacks! So, having plenty of hearty food is key for a long day on campus. One way to do this on a tight budget is to cook warm, filling meals at home in bulk then bring a portion (or two, we don’t judge) to university with you. In the SU building, you will find some microwaves where you can heat up your pre-prepped meals to enjoy in between classes. This can save you £2-£6 a day minimum on-campus spending and potentially hundreds of pounds each month in groceries if you plan ahead and buy simple ingredients in bulk!

Cutting Costs on Caffeine

In part 1 I explained how to get discounts on coffee and how you can make the most of loyalty schemes, but I know that sometimes buying coffee on the go is just not an option. However, it’s an absolute staple drink in the average student’s day!

My advice is to grab a travel mug and keep plenty of your favourite tea bags or coffee sachets in your bag. Simply ask for hot water at one of the cafes or coffee shops on campus.

So, there we have it! A handful of ways to scrimp, save and spend wisely on campus. What advice would you add?

Sam xo