Starting at uni in uncertain times

illustration of a supporting handHey! I am a first-year student, I’m studying Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) – although for a while I didn’t think this would happen! I had a really stressful time before starting university. It wasn’t like everyone else who received their results in August, got their offers, found out where they were living and when they would move it.

My story

I had been having problems with the course provider for my Access course from the moment I signed up 2 years ago. What had sounded like an ideal way to study, at home, online, flexible around my work had turned into a nightmare. So there I was in August, desperately trying to complete the Access Course which had completely taken over my life (even forcing me to take a few ‘sick’ days– sorry work! I’m sure you knew though…). I had been messed around so badly I had to complete around three-quarters the course in a few months.

At this point, I was beginning to wonder if I could finish the course before September? Would I be going to uni? Despite this, I still had to hand in my notice at my full-time job and began to buy and pack what I needed.

End of August

The end of August came, and I still hadn’t finished the access course. My second choice uni emailed me telling me as I had not been able to provide them with confirmation of my grades, they had assumed I was no longer interested. Marjon emailed for confirmation of my grades too, I tearfully emailed back the problems I was having, not knowing what the outcome would be. I didn’t want to have to wait another year before I could start!

I cannot explain the relief I felt when Marjon emailed back telling me I had no reason to worry, I could still start while my grade was being confirmed, they have done this with several students. Marjon also told me that they had plenty of accommodation available still, so I wasn’t going to start uni homeless. They guarantee accommodation for all first-years regardless of whether Marjon is your first or second choice.

Three days before move-in day

I still didn’t know if I would be moving in on Sunday. Everything is packed into boxes and piled in my parents’ living room. Then after several phone calls, my course provider finally sends confirmation of my grades to Marjon. I rung Marjon to check they had the email, they assured me they had and forwarded it directly to the right department. Within 24 hours, I was signed onto the SLT course, signed my accommodation contract and paid my deposit. I had a house and a room number. I knew where I was going to live.

Move-in day

Everything runs smoothly. My name is on the list and there is an envelope with my name on it. I cannot explain the relief I felt walking into my room, knowing after months of hard work, tears and stress I had made it.

First few weeks of uni

Student finance comes in. We all feel temporarily rich but it is time to pay rent. I don’t have enough to cover my rent because my student finance  isn’t right despite signing up for my finance as soon as I could. As the theme of this post seems to be, it took several phone calls, differing advice and extra forms before it was sorted out.

The third-year I was living with told me to go and talk to the Marjon finance team. I was so embarrassed to tell them I couldn’t pay my rent because of my finance but they couldn’t have been more understanding. They made a note on my file and told me to stay in touch. They said to keep them updated with any changes, and assured me it happens every year, there are always other students with the same problem. It took two more weeks and then my finance was sorted.

My advice

I know that starting uni can be stressful, especially for anyone starting this year with all that is happening! If you are worried or stressed about your grades, place or anything university related, just email or ring Marjon. They will probably be able to help you out or will put in touch with someone who can. I wish I had emailed Marjon weeks before I did, it would have taken a lot of the stress away!

Thank you to Betony Brock for writing this blog.

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