Hi, I’m Lauren! I’m a mature student living in John Lester Court, and I’ve just begun my first year of studying English Literature! A few months ago, it hit me that I was miserable in my job. I wanted more out of life, and I’d always dreamed of studying English Literature. And so, I sold my car, quit my job, and applied for my course through Clearing! It’s easily the bravest and most wonderful decision I’ve ever made for myself, but, like everyone, I still have doubts and fears.
I put in a lot of work to overcome my doubts and start my degree, but these same doubts are still very frightening! University is a huge life change for anyone, and it’s so scary when you first arrive! The campus is huge, the city centre is intimidating, and you have no idea where the shops are! I found myself panicking, thinking “Right, I’m here now …. Now what?”, so I thought I’d write my first blog post on my most common fears, and how being at university actually helped me to overcome them!
1. “I’ll be the only mature student there. How will I make friends?”
This one was the most difficult for me. This question seemed huge and unanswerable, until I walked into my Programme Information Session in Induction Week. Within 10 minutes, everyone was nattering away about their favourite books, and as the tutor-led discussion went on, I realised that I was surrounded by people of all ages with the exact same passions and interests at me. It’s impossible not to make friends when you have so much in common with everyone!
2. “I haven’t written an essay or sat an exam in years. How will I cope?”
The tutors on your programme are there to support you. No-one expects you to turn in a perfect dissertation after one week, and there is a wealth of resource available from your tutors, on Blackboard, and in the University Clifford Whitworth Library. I was amazed the first time I walked in, it’s a book nerd’s dream! It even has an entire section on how to write essays and dissertations! Just last week, I picked up a book called How to Study a Shakespeare Play by John Peck and Martin Coyle to help with my Introduction to Drama module, and used the free trial of student Amazon Prime to buy a copy of 50 Steps to Improving Your Academic Writing by Chris Sowton, a study book recommended on my Language Through Literature module’s Reading List, and it’s fantastic! I’ve discovered that I do know how to do academic writing, I just need to get back into the habit of referencing!
3. “I’ll need to live at university, but I’m too old to live in a ‘party flat’.”
No need to worry! When you book your room in halls, you’re asked to complete a personality test online to match you with people that you’re likely to get on well with! I was terrified of being stuck in a 10-bedroom flat with parties every night (I’m really rather a boring person, all I need for a good Saturday night is peace and quiet and a good book!), but the personality quiz matched me with a PhD student in a 2-bedroom flat, who also loves his peace and quiet! We made friends by cooking for each other!
4. “What if I can’t schedule my time correctly, and I fall behind?”
There are loads of apps available for your phone to help you schedule your ‘homework’, and the tutors are amazing. I fell behind in my first week due to a family bereavement, and my programme leader, Dr Maggie Scott, was so wonderful and supportive. She offered private tutoring time to help me catch up, and reassured me that the tutors were there to support me if I needed anything at all. Blackboard is also full of programme schedules, Reading Lists, and lecture and seminar handouts to help you stay on top of things. I caught up in no time at all!
5. “What if I have no idea what they’re going on about in lectures?!”
The lecture presentations and handouts are available on Blackboard, and that’s what your seminars are for! If you ever get overwhelmed or panic, the tutors are there to support you. You’re never alone at Salford University, the support network that you have available is nothing short of incredible!
6. “I can’t do this.”
This doubt is a nasty one, and it affects us all when we stumble across something which seems impossible. It affects me during lectures, or when scheduling a busy week, but this doubt is temporary and it will pass. Your course is run and led by a team of experts who accepted your application for your course because they believe in you. The Wellbeing service is also always there to help in case you ever need someone to talk to about any of university’s stresses. It’s a fantastic resource, and you should always have one of their flyers pinned to your notice board!
Thank you for reading! I’m off to my first official lecture now, and I’m terribly excited! We’re all always going to get these small doubts and niggling fears, but the University is there to help! These little fears go hand-in-hand with being so passionate about the course!