Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Get your free MenACWY vaccine before going to university.

All set for uni? You’ve got your books, somewhere to live and even booked tickets for all the fresher events.

But forgetting one thing could put your life at risk – so get your free MenACWY vaccine from your GP before starting uni.

The MenACWY vaccine is the best way to protect you from four kinds of meningococcal disease - the main cause of meningitis and septicaemia. The Men A, C, W and Y strains are a serious and can kill.

Those in their late teens, particularly new uni students, are at higher risk of meningococcal disease. You should get vaccinated at least two weeks before you start uni so you have protection before you go.

If you can’t get vaccinated before starting uni, get the vaccine as soon as you arrive.

More than two million people have been vaccinated and we have shown that the vaccine works.

University freshers under 25 should have the free jab, along with anyone born on or after 1 September 1996 (if you’ve not already been vaccinated).

So what are you waiting for? Make an appointment with your GP now and get the MenACWY vaccine. It will help you make the most out of your university experience and it might save your life.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Don't get FOMO on results day! Call the Exam Results Helpline

Don’t get ‘FOMO’ on exam results day! Panic buying because you think you’ll miss out is not the solution to your problems. Here our advisor Annie Dobson helps bring some perspective to what can be a worrying time for everyone.

Exam results day are stressful for most people – so you don’t have to do this alone

Take someone with you, preferably parents or carers, and if you can, get them to drive so that you have one thing less to worry about.

It's good to have people you care about to celebrate with, but it's also important to have them there if your results are not what you had hoped for. If things have not gone to plan, take a moment to let it sink in.

Talk to your support, be it your parents or carers or your teachers and listen to them, they can be the voice of reason. It's important not to panic, and not to panic buy when you start to look at clearing options.

Take your time, and remember, you can take a year to take stock, re-sit if necessary, get some work experience and transferable skills and re-apply for next year.

This really is all about you!

It's important to focus on you. There are not many times in life when you shouldn’t have to think about others, but make sure you blank out what your peers and friends are or are not doing. Don't rush into anything for fear of missing out, remember it's your future and no-one else's so make sure it's right for you.

There is the chance that you won't get the course of your choice through clearing and it's better, in this case that you look at the alternatives, rather than rush onto a course simply to say you are at university.

Plan. Creating a plan for the day, and the days leading up to it can really help.  

Take a look at alternatives, in case things don’t go to plan.  This could be a list of clearing possibilities or alternatives such as Foundation Degrees, HNDs and HNCs as well as employment and apprenticeships.

On the day, check your status on Track to see if you have been accepted into your firm or insurance choice.  Track opens at 8am, however, it will not tell you your grades and you will need to find out from Sixth Form or College about how you will receive your results.

Eat something in the morning – preferably after you’ve had a good sleep!

When you do go to collect your results, make sure you go prepared and that means physically also. Try and get a good night’s sleep and then get up and have a decent breakfast. You don't want to be wobbly if you have to spend time there trying to sort our university or accommodation, and you certainly don't want to be celebrating on an empty tummy!

Make sure you top up in case things bottom out

Take a fully charged and topped up mobile with you in case you need to contact your university or to contact others through clearing. Take your universities contact details as well as any you thought about clearing options just in case you want to consider adjustment, things don't go to plan, or you have simply changed your mind.

Take a note of the Exam Results Helpline 0808 100 8000 - there are experienced advisers on hand to help you.

Ben Fogle: Haven't got the grades you hoped for? Be positive!

I will never forget the day I finished my final A level exam. FREEDOM. The summer that followed was one of the happiest times of my life. No worries. No revision. No pressure. But all good things come to an end, and before the summer was up it was results day. I still get just a little bit sick thinking about it. It was many years ago now but in many ways, it feels like yesterday. It's like a slow-motion rollercoaster. There is nothing you can do to alter or change those results.

So much pressure is placed on those few results. I can remember thinking that my whole life could be made or broken by them. University and thence my career both relied on them. I remember opening the envelope. Heart pounding as my eyes settled on the marks. I could see a D and an N. N? What was that? I had failed.

My stomach churned and I was overcome with a wave of hopelessness. I was alone at home with only my dogs for company. I tried to rationalise the situation but to be honest it felt hopeless. I was a failure.

I fell into a bit of a rut. I was enveloped in waves of depression. All my friends had got their grades and their university places. I had neither.

My parents were surprisingly unperturbed. They shrugged their shoulders and together we looked at options. Retakes. Gap year. Clearing.

It's a long story but I found a job to earn enough money and took off for a year to South America, where I learnt fluent Spanish. One year became two and by the time I returned, I persuaded a university to accept me on a degree in Latin American studies.

It's strange, the many twists and turns our lives take, and A level results are important but by no means vital.

My advice to you, if you haven't got the grades you hoped for, is to be positive. There is always another way. There is always an alternative. Don't cave in to the little negative devil on your shoulder. Blow the clouds of despair away and look for the sunlight beyond.

And if in doubt, remember my tale. I failed my exams and I haven't done so badly.

About Student Minds

Starting university can be a wonderful and exciting experience, but it can also bring its own unique challenges. It's natural to feel nervous or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at university, and it can be a while before you feel like you’ve found your feet. Student Minds works to transform the state of student mental health so that all in Higher Education can thrive, including you!

Student Minds is the UK’s student mental health charity. We empower students and members of the university community to develop the knowledge, confidence and skills to look after their own mental health, support others and create change. We train students and staff in universities across the UK to deliver student-led peer support interventions as well as research-driven campaigns and workshops. By working collaboratively across sectors, we share best practice and ensure that the student voice influences decisions about student mental health.

It is common to worry about moving to university, it is key to remember that you won't be the only one feeling this way. Read about other students’ experiences of starting university and what they wish they had known when they started. Find tips for students, written by students on the Student Minds Blog.

Before moving to university it is helpful to find out what support is available on your campus:

  • Disclose any pre-existing mental health difficulties to your university so they can support
  • Register for a doctor in your new city
  • Find out about your university counselling services and what support they offer
  • Read our Look After Your Mate guide to find out how you can support your peers
  • Check out our further support page
  • More tips on making friends, dealing with homesick, settling in, preparing for university and looking after yourself are available here.
Find out how you can get involved with Student Minds on your campus! There are a variety of ways to get involved as a student including: setting up or joining a group at your university, blogging, campaigning or fundraising.

“I found getting involved with Student Minds a big step in my mental health journey, I only wish I had known about their amazing resources when I was in my first year and not my last. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without the charity.” - Student Minds Volunteer

Two things that help smash through social anxiety at uni

Not everyone is born confident. Moving away from home is a part of life that most people will encounter. Some university students may find the move an exciting and fresh start, whereasothers may see the experience as a terrifying proposition. If you find yourself in the latter camp, I'm here to tell you that this overwhelming feeling is perfectly normal.

It's difficult moving to a new environment, with new faces and a new daily routine, especially if you’re the only one out of your friends attending the university. I'm currently in this situation, and it does not help knowing I will have to adjust myself to whatever situation I will find myself in when I move to Lincoln.

Living with social anxiety can exacerbate the nerves already surrounding starting uni. In my case, I find it difficult being left in a shopping aisle alone when my mother ‘ditches’ me to get some veg from an aisle on the other side of the store. Other days, I find it difficult to make phone calls to people I am unfamiliar with, or to answer the door to receive a parcel from the postman.

Slowly, however, I've been teaching myself to take control of my anxiety in everyday situations by introducing two techniques that have helped massively with my social anxiety.

My fellow social anxiety sufferers, music is a powerful gift to all of us. Especially if you are able to find an artist who is able to relate to how you are feeling.

I have found that even going shopping alone or with someone who decides to leave you, putting your headphones on diverts the attention to the lyrics of the song. It's a simple technique, but in many cases very effective.

It doesn't have to be running. Going to the gym or working out with friends can help you get outside your comfort zone too. Balancing the body will help to balance the mind. The more you place yourself in these situations, the more you will begin to get used to social situations.

I personally do not go to the gym. Instead, I go running around my block, or in the park. This helps me get confident in the environment I live in, as well as pushing myself to go past people, instead of avoiding them. Working out with music can help increase the confidence you have in yourself, as well as contributing to not thinking twice about approaching people in your classes.

I can't say these techniques will work for every social anxiety sufferer, but it has been said that music and fitness help to increase one’s mood and confidence. I, for one, can support this notion, as it has made me feel more in control in situations that involve other people.

University is a whole new chapter that should be seen with bright eyes. You can't think negatively about the what ifs. This is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and start afresh. You are who you want to be. Our social anxieties will always be in the back of our minds, but remember that you are in control of your body and mind. Make that a motto and accomplish what you set out to do!

For more advice from students, join the student community at Campus Society.