The festive season is all about being surrounded by home comforts, delicious food, family and friends. So, it’s not unusual for students to have intensified new year blues at the thought of heading back to university in January.
The start of a new term can mean studying for exams, moving away from home again and a feeling of being alone or missing home, which can often heighten emotions of anxiety and stress.
A survey of just over 1,200 first year students in January indicated that more than a fifth had dropped out or were seriously thinking about it because of the cost, not liking their course or university, finding work or becoming disenchanted with education. The advice from experts is to ask for support because it can be the first crucial step to making the situation better.
‘Feeling very low or stressed is a sign that something needs to change, and there is often more that can be done than you realise,’ said Caroline Stonell, head of student support at Arden University. ‘It is not a weakness to ask for support, it is a sign of strength. Being alone with how you feel doesn’t solve the problem. Take a deep breath and pick up the phone or write an email. It could be the best thing you do and the first step to making things manageable again.’
1. Keep in touch. When they’re away from home support them with regular phone calls, Skype or Facetime. Think about arranging a visit to see them at university.
2. Encourage them to have a chat with their personal tutor. It may be useful to have the tutors name and details yourself, just in case you need to make contact.
3. Get that person to access to support services. Does the university have a student support coordinator or a counsellor for example?
4. Encourage them to try out societies or clubs to get to know new people.
5. Eating and sleeping well is important, so advise your loved one to keep healthy – and yes, that can mean avoiding too much alcohol.
6. Tell them that it’s okay to ask for help, and seek professional help, for example if they have had any thoughts about self-harm or suicide. Far from failing them, helping that person get help can be incredibly important.
7. Consider whether it’s time to change course or have time out of university. It could be the best decision for that person, but don’t rush into it.
Attending a traditional university and full-time course isn’t for everyone. There is an alternative route with Arden University, a specialist in online learning and blended learning.
You can watch tutorials on the train to writing assignments at your kitchen table or reading books in the online library to better fit around your life. Students interact through online discussions, while there are 24/7, multi-device, multi-media learning materials and a ‘virtual classroom’ portal. Studying online doesn’t mean you are alone though - Arden offers expert support with a named, personal student support coordinator to help students with any issues they might have. Academic support comes from tutors who are available by phone or email, wherever you are. Because you study online you can stay at home which can ease the isolation that some feel when they move away.
For those who want a mix of on-campus and online learning, blended learning degrees are another option. They provide flexibility plus support and contact from tutors in a classroom environment. Students can complete a full three-year degree, with two days’ face to face commitment per term week in one of the Arden University study centres in London. The rest of the time is spent studying online.
More than 90 percent of Arden students work alongside their studies, while many also have family caring responsibilities. With flexible and support degrees available, there are always options to take forward your education and fitting it around a balanced life, and all the benefits that provides.
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