Posts tagged: student diaries

That was an academic year? #studentdiaries

11 May 2017

Dominic Williams
English Literature and Creative Writing student

A sort of bombshell hit me this week, with the realisation that my first year as an undergraduate student is about to end.

It doesn’t seem like two years ago that I first made the decision to start the application process, and now here I am, modules for Year 2 selected, with the emphasis on the creative – my main inspiration and reason for this journey.  Even as I’m typing this, it still hasn’t quite sunk in as to what I have achieved, how far I have come in such a relatively short space of time, time which seems to be flying by at an incredibly fast rate.

This period of time has been educational in every possible sense of the word, and after a 30 year gap in education, it hasn’t been all straight forward, but a welcome challenge none the less.

If I take a moment to fully consider the events of the last year, then one thing I have noticed is my acceptance, albeit very slowly, of my abilities as a writer. I know I’m on the right track, and time and patience will be my friend (I hope!!).  With the benefit of wisdom and advice from not only my tutors, but fellow students whom I have come to know as friends, friends with whom I have come to learn that my age is not an impediment to achieving something for which I have dreamed for such a long time.  Not only that, but the acceptance of myself, flaws and all, no matter what the age gaps that exist, without this being a barrier, in such a diverse group of students, or should I once again emphasise, friends.

Indeed, I am eternally grateful for not only the opportunities that are already opening up to me, but for those yet to come – who knows what lies ahead during and after the next two years!

The last few weeks of 2016 were full on to say the least!! #studentdiaries

6 February 2017

“At times as the pressure was immense”

So its been a while since I wrote a blog… The last few weeks of 2016 were full on to say the least!! I had an exam to do (stress!!!) a case study, academic poster, ICPP assignment and Viva to complete. I didn’t know what to do with myself at times as the pressure was immense. Thank goodness that I had planned my work out and was on top of it, but even that being said I haven’t been as stressed as I was in December for a long time.

“I learnt a valuable lesson for coping with exams”

The exam in particular was a struggle for me. I do not perform well under exam conditions, retaining information under stress is really difficult and I felt like the stuff I’d learnt literally fell out of my head as I opened the exam paper. I learnt a valuable lesson for coping with exams – I need to prepare further out in future and not leave it until a week before to start the revision.

“I was starting to feel like I was living a parallel life to my family”

I allowed myself Christmas off to spend time with my lovely family because I had become acutely aware that I was spending less and less time with my kids as my deadlines were looming. It is absolutely my choice to do this degree and when the degree is over and I have secured my dream job it will all be worth it but I was starting to feel like I was living a parallel life to my family. They were times when it would get me down that I wasn’t being as present in my life as I wanted to, I was desperate to be able to sit down and watch My Little Pony with them but I just wanted to get my work complete so that I could have 2 weeks off. It was a push but I’m proud that I managed it and we had a fantastic Christmas together.

I feel so well supported by my tutors and friends

Semester 2 starts for me with my first placement. I won’t lie I am extremely nervous about it as I have been placed in an acute mental health ward, its something that I have no experience of and the thought of the unknown is scary and worrying to me. However, I feel so well supported by my tutors and friends and we had an amazing lecture this week where 2 service users with Schizophrenia came in to talk to us, they were really inspiring and I’m now feeling really up for the challenge. I’ve been doing some reading on various mental health disorders in preparation for the placement so bring it on!

I already have a feeling that there will be lots to learn over the next 4 weeks, some good and some bad experiences but its a really important part of the course.

Exam meltdown #studentdiaries

31 January 2017

Plenty of time to revise

3 weeks off for Xmas and revision. That’s plenty of time to revise I thought. Having put in the effort previously on my essay I just had 2 exams to revise for. The first one was professional studies; a written exam. I hate written exams. I always have. The last written exam I did was my GCSE English 2 years ago. I passed my GCSE English, finally, on my third attempt having failed in school, then walking out of the exam on my second attempt with a feeling of hopelessness and failure. This time it would be different. I am older (I prefer more mature!), more determined, and more prepared.

The night before the exam I ironically felt unprepared, was forgetting knowledge I had been putting in my head over and over but could not for the life of me recall when trying to write it up. I threw my imaginary toys out of my imaginary cot and had the same feeling of hopelessness that I used to get. Thankfully my girlfriend, Amy, was very helpful in reassuring me and we worked through it together.

“I am looking forward to getting feedback to see where I went wrong”

The next day I went into the first exam feeling ok. Not booming with confidence, but not a nervous wreck either. I felt like it went ok. Nothing fantastic, but ok. I got the mark back this week – 49%. For me at the minute, a pass is a pass. I am looking forward to getting feedback to see where I went wrong.

If I am being honest with myself, I know my problem; I struggle to retain information. I feel like I put in hours and hours of effort but retain very little. I am going to look at revision techniques in more depth and book onto a course through Skills for Learning. I am using this first year as a learning curve.
Onwards and upwards!

New to Salford? You are not alone! #studentdiaries

30 January 2017

Our team of fab student bloggers have been writing about their experience of studying at Uni and sharing some really good reflections about being a new student.

Anne – studying Occupational Therapy

Meet Anne. She has become an ‘expert juggler’ since starting her Occupational Therapy course in September. She has been blogging about setting up her ‘occupation station’, having 3rd week wobbles, building professional relationships by car sharing and a few referencing lessons have been learnt! All of Anne’s posts can be read here.




Dave – studying Podiatry

Dave StuartSince starting in September, Dave has been busy getting ready for professional practice and has also completed Wordscope, our academic writing course –  he says his writing style has really improved as a result. He also got support from the Skills for Learning team when writing his first essay. Read more about Dave’s first semester here.




Dominic – studying English and Creative Writing

Dominic says that at 48 (almost 49), he is the very definition of a mature student… or as his daughter said “You’re not mature Dad, just old!”. He has been surprised by the pace and has had to battle with some time out due to illness. He has found comfort in knowing that others on his course are all in the same boat and ready to pick each other up when they ‘trip and fall’. All of Dominic’s posts can be read here.




Would you like to share your experience of studying at University?

Contact to let us know you are interested.

One Semester Already…? #studentdiaries

15 December 2016

I’m finding myself a little overwhelmed as I start to write this post.  Firstly, I am a little behind due to sickness.  Secondly, given that there are only five days left before we adjourn for the seasonal festivities, there is a general consensus amongst myself and my fellow students, that these last four months seem to have flown by at an alarming rate!  Or, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams “Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so…”

I am in exactly the same position

It is rather perversely amusing to see the varying degrees of panic on students’ faces, as they rush to complete assignments by the various deadlines.  Of course, the amusement quickly fades away as I realise that I am in exactly the same position.  However, I have to recognise that from a certain perspective, the hardest part of my undergraduate journey has already been completed.  In the same sense that the first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have a problem in the first place, then actually attending and completing the first semester, having chosen to go down this higher educational path, is very much that step.

There will be times when I trip and fall

I guess as I continue to learn to walk at this undergraduate pace, there will be times when I trip and fall, but it is nice to know, should that happen again (as it already has at least once), then there are plenty of outstretched arms ready to lift me back up again and hold me steady as we all walk the same path…

6 common doubts and fears BUSTED! #studentdiaries

7 October 2016

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!

So it begins…!

29 September 2016

Dave StuartHi my name is Dave and I am 33.  I left the British Army in 2015 to seek new challenges. After much consideration, enrolled on an Access to HE Science course. I am now embarking on Podiatry at University of Salford. I have had a few jokes thrown my way from work colleagues saying that I must be mad to leave a reasonably well paid job within the IT sector to start out on a new career. I too thought the same – I must be mad! However, day 1 of fresher’s week has shown me that there is a vast spectrum of people at university – and I fit in somewhere comfortably in the middle.

“we have all come from very different backgrounds and thus all having our own particular qualities that we will be able to bring to group work”

Thankfully, the first week has been stress free, showing what is expected of us on the course. We have been encouraged to communicate to each other and think outside the box by collaborating on a group activity of giving first aid within given scenarios. We also had to do a small ice breaker, to determine a random/odd fact about someone sat near us. This lead to the realisation that we have all come from very different backgrounds and thus all having our own particular qualities that we will be able to bring to group work.

Having left my job just over a week ago, I have taken it upon myself to get used to the university website and get my laptop and phone set up correctly – I have downloaded MS office, and read as many of the hint guides as I can, and also booked myself onto a Referencing techniques course. I would strongly recommend that students forward their student email address to their personal email – that way nothing is missed!

As a mature student I don’t plan on spending *too* much time in the student union bar – however I could not help but have a quick drink when picking up my ID and having a look around! It looks like it has a relaxed vibe, with a few TVs stationed around for watching sporting events on, an area for a live band and reasonably priced pizza (and tasty) on the menu. Looking forward to starting the year!

Introducing Student Diaries. It’s our exciting new project!

15 September 2016

Student Diaries is a new and very exciting project from your Skills for Learning team.

We have gathered new students who are going to capture their experience of the first year of study at university. They will be sharing their reflections on this blog, via @skillupUS and on our Facebook page.

The sorts of things they will be writing about are:

  • How they felt before start studying at university
  • What helped them to overcome their anxieties
  • How it felt walking into their first large lecture
  • What it was like going on placement for the first time
  • Tips for keeping on top of the work
  • How they felt about their first assignment or exam

Our bloggers will be starting to post here over the next few weeks. So keep checking it out and join in the conversation!

If you are interested in becoming one of our student bloggers please email with your contact details and the course you are studying and we will send you more information.