Before you go
Check out your options
A lot of courses at York have part-time or online study options for postgraduates. These are well worth investigating to find the best one for you.
I decided to take the two-year part-time option for my MSc so I could manage my workload without damaging my health. It’s made the whole process much less stressful. If you do go for the part-time option, talk to your department about how modules can be split up. If, like me, your condition gets worse in winter (cold + damp = unhappy joints!), it might be possible to take more modules in the spring to take some of the pressure off. Get more information here or by contacting your department directly.
If you’re a UK resident, you may be able to access Disabled Students’ Allowance. The application process is a bit of a faff but it can give you access to a load of support, including mentoring and specialist software to help with your studies. As part of the process, you’ll have a chance to discuss exactly what you need with an advisor. But I personally use:
- Dragon NaturallySpeaking – speech to text
- Sonocent AudioNotetaker – a really useful piece of kit for recording lectures and slides with the ability to take notes alongside them
- ReadAndWrite Gold – a screen reader with filters and a PDF reading function which comes in handy for reading journal articles
At a university level, you can get in touch with Disability Services to request a Student Support Plan. This is another chance to discuss any concerns you might have about studying with a disability and put together a plan to deal with them. This might be allowing extra time for assessments, special arrangements for exams, or in-classroom support – whatever will help you to get the most out of your course.
Within your department, there will also be a designated Disability Officer (listed on the department’s staff page). You can contact them about course-specific issues.
When you get here
Find out how you learn best
The two most important things for me when it comes to studying are finding a good study space and having some kind of routine.
There are plenty of study spaces across campus, including accessible private study rooms in the JB Morrell and Fairhurst libraries on Campus West.
But I personally prefer working in cafes and in York, I’m definitely spoilt for choice! There are great options down Fossgate and Goodramgate in the city centre, and Bishopthorpe Road slightly further out of town. My favourites are Cosy Time on Fossgate and Plush on Stonegate, but there are plenty of others to explore. Euan’s Guide is useful for checking out accessibility. I’m a cane user and don’t normally have difficulties with accessing cafes, but if you use a wheelchair it might be worth calling ahead to check about facilities. York has a lot of historic buildings which aren’t always easy to get into.
Trying to maintain a routine with a chronic illness or disability is, to put it mildly, kind of a nightmare But I find it helpful to have plans in place for good days and bad days. That way I can keep to a broad structure but adapt it if something goes wrong.
Ask for help
Finally (and most importantly) – don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even beyond the disability-specific support services, the staff in my department have been incredibly supportive. Although I totally understand the temptation to try and power through difficulties, I’ve never regretted being open about what I need to get the best out of my course.
Remember that you have a right to postgraduate qualifications as much as anyone. And you deserve to access whatever you need to get the university experience that works for you.
Read more student stories about support at York