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

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

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

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

Paper-less Notes

Let’s just start by saying that I am a huge stationery nerd. New notebooks, more pens, cute rubbers and pom-pom pencils. I live for it. When I first found out I was going to university, I raided my favourite stationery shops to make sure I had the cutest notebooks with matching folders and brand new pens. However, by the end of my first year, I hadn’t used half of it.

Since starting university, I have become really interested in sustainability and making better choices as a consumer. I’m not here to shove climate change down your throat. All I ask is that you take what I say on board and maybe think about it when it comes to buying another notebook.

When it came to packing up my room, I had bin bags full of paper and it was all useless. I made a pledge to myself that during my second year, I would aim to only fill a shoebox. So far, I am proud to say, I have only used one notebook and haven’t printed out anything for my lectures/seminars. I’m going to go through below what I’ve been using this year to remain paper-less.

Google Drive / Google Docs / Google Slides

Before this year, I had never used anything to do with Google. I was happy with my Microsoft Word and pen drive. However, after nearly losing ALL my work from the first year, I decided to ditch the pen drive and go Google. I use Google Docs for my lecture and seminar notes, reading and planning my assignments. I’ve started downloading journal articles onto my Google Drive, meaning I can highlight and make notes straight on to it.

Google Drive means you can keep a live version of everything in one place. Instead of having to put things on and off your USB all the time. It also means you can collaborate with a study group and all work together on something. I have a couple of these collabs on the go right now and it’s great being able to share ideas, work together in a live document.

I still use a notebook from time-to-time to keep to-do lists or important dates. Sustainability isn’t about ditching everything that’s bad for the world, it’s about making better choices. In this instance, it’s also a more effective and efficient tool for university. I hope you enjoyed this and try it out!

Thank you for reading!

Amy

Second-Year Accommodation

As Housing Week as recently passed, I thought I would talk about my housing experience during my second year of university.

Who?

This year I am living with three other girls from my course. Two of them are in classes at university and we looked for a 4-bed house. House sizes can go up to 12, although I feel that somebody told me about a 16-bed house but I could have just been very sleepy that day. I wanted to stay small, and luckily these girls felt the same. You may also find that you want to live with the same people you did in halls, and that’s also fine. My advice would be to get a plan together and stick to it. Otherwise, it might end a little messy.

When?

We started looking very early, I think around November time. I wouldn’t recommend this, but if you want to get it sorted sooner rather than later than you can look around and get it sorted before Christmas. It’s doable. A slight caution to look out for is that some lettings agency can be pushy and a little pressuring on you to sign contracts. Don’t sign anything until you have read the contract, looked at the payments, seen the house and talked to someone knowledgable about the contract. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either, check over everything.

Where?

The house we are in is just lush. I’m really happy we managed to get this one and I don’t regret it. The only downside is that it’s a little too far from university for my liking. It’s not too far, a 25-minute walk -which is fine, it’s just rough when it’s cold/rainy/windy. Apart from that, the house is great.

How?

We went through a lettings agency in Ormskirk that has student houses. We viewed a few houses but none were as good as the one we are in now. Once we were set on that we emailed to say that we would like to live there. They operate on a first-come service and we were told another group had asked before us. We waited to hear and they never turned up to sign the contracts so the house was ours if we wanted it. Hoorah.

Anything else:

Just don’t rush. I know in my experience, we did rush and we ended up with a nice house – but if I could do it again, I’d have liked to be closer.

As always, if you have any questions please drop them below.

Amy