The last 12-18 months have thrown up an unprecedented amount of challenges for the current Year 13 students about to enter university life. After what has been an incredibly difficult year, how can we support these students through this transition?
The current cohort of Year 13 students about to enter university life have experienced one of the most disrupted academic years, including a switch to home learning, exams changing to teacher assessments, and less contact with teachers and friends. These soon-to-be first years are now about to go through another substantial life transition, one that will likely throw up even more new challenges for them. Not only this, but 74 per cent of current university students reported that Covid-19 has had a negative impact on their mental health and wellbeing at university (Wonkhe, 2021). Therefore, it is important to ensure that we are supporting this new intake of students through what is likely to be another unusual academic year.
Many universities have pledged to support the new incoming class of students through a variety of measures, from interactive resources, to live and on-demand sessions, to workshops with students. But how else can we best support students throughout the 2021-2022 year?
1. Encourage a good study-life balance
It is important for students to remember that academic success does not mean never being able to socialise or take a break. It is essential to find a healthy study-life balance, whether that’s through in-person welcome events or virtual introductory talks, there will be plenty to welcome students to university life. As well as finding their own social hub, it’s important to signpost to students the importance of getting a balance with good sleep, dietary habits, and exercise.
Epigeum fact: While most of us know that a dark room is more conducive to sleep than a bright room, did you also know that the ideal room temperature for sleeping is 16-18C?
2. Support first year students’ financial awareness
Finances are one of the most common stressors among students, and for first years it is extremely beneficial to provide financial management support. Offering advice on key financial concepts, how to budget, how to save as a student, and helping students understand borrowing, credit scores, and more, will therefore promote better mental wellbeing for all students. By eliminating this stressor, we can better the experience of the 2021 student intake.
Epigeum fact: Choosing accommodation can be tricky, especially for first-time renters. Your institution may have options for quiet halls or single-sex residences, or the local area may have lots of student-dedicated renting agencies. By ensuring students are aware of all their options, you can ensure they are fully equipped to make the right choice for them.
3. Encourage open discussion about mental health and wellbeing
Many young adults and students are finding their mental health has been adversely affected over this past year, but it can be difficult to talk about. By encouraging an open environment and signposting both the institutional support available and external resources, students will feel safe to seek support and be open about their struggles.
Epigeum fact: Have you heard of NATs? These are Negative Automatic Thoughts, unfair critical pieces of self-talk that can influence thinking without the student being aware of them. Over time, it’s possible to recognise them and limit their influence.
4. Provide advice regarding best practices for both in person and online learning
With many universities looking to move to a hybrid learning environment, it’s an ideal time to provide support for learning best practices. Whether that’s how to effectively take notes during in-person seminars, or how to stay motivated during online lectures, it’s key to help students understand how to make the most out of all their lectures, seminars, and tutorials.
Epigeum fact: Having a flexible yet realistic plan for work brings more consistent success than having a strict study timetable. By having staff encourage a 12- to 24-hour cushion for deadlines, this can be a great way of ensuring students allow enough time to complete assignments.
There are many ways to support the current Year 13s throughout their first year of university life – our Being Well, Living Well programme can provide key learnings and advice about mental health, financial support, physical wellbeing, and more. Contact our sales team to find out more or request a free trial.