Hi! My name is Hannah and I am a second-year psychology student at the University of York. I am from Liverpool and am a member of Constantine College, having lived there in my first year. I am the first person in my family to attend university, which defines me as a ‘first-generation student’. Also, I fall into the working-class student bracket. In this blog I will be writing about my experience of university life so far.
I was generally quite clueless when it came to what university would be like, especially for a first-generation working-class student. If I’m completely honest, I did find my first few weeks of university quite overwhelming. Moving away from home and living on campus with new people was one thing to adjust to. I also had no idea about how degree courses worked, which was a real struggle for me. Having said that, there were definitely some things at the University of York that were really useful to me.
The campus environment at York is one of my favourite things about the University. When I arrived on campus for the first time, I instantly felt at home here. I lived on Campus East where the buildings and accommodation are modern. The campus also has a quiet, peaceful feeling to it which I loved.
Campus West is lively and welcoming, and the lake homes all York’s amazing waterfowl! Even though I didn’t know much about university, I knew the best place for me was somewhere that I felt at home. I only got that feeling in York.
Support is available
The support at the University is also brilliant. If I am completely honest, I struggled with settling into university. Coming from my background, I was proud of myself that I had tried to come to university. But in the first few weeks I did think that university wasn’t meant for me. Yet, after discussions with university support, my academic supervisor and my family, I made the decision to stick it out, and it was the best decision I have ever made. The college teams are a good first point of contact for any issues that you may have, and the Constantine team were brilliant to me in my first year.
The first-generation student network is also fantastic in York. They send out regular newsletters to students identified as being first-gen, that details opportunities and tips. There is a working-class network at the University who do brilliant work too! York does a lot for students like me to help them find their feet at university. This support is available through your entire degree and beyond. Academic support is also great at York. There are skills centres and workshops available for Maths and English support for anyone who needs it.
The University also offers some job vacancies to working-class students, such as jobs in the on-campus student union bars or as Student Ambassadors. These job roles are flexible around degree courses and allow you time in the holidays to return home to visit family and other friends. It’s perfect for students who need some extra money!
Another thing that helped me to find my feet at university was society membership. There are societies for pretty much every hobby or interest you can think of. If one doesn’t already exist, you can set one up yourself! I have been a member of various societies whilst at York.
For example, I was an active member of Psychology Society in my first year. I went on to be on the committee through my second-year, and ended up finding a lot of my friends from attending society events!
I won’t lie and say that “university is just as easy for first-generation and working-class students as it can be for a lot of other students.” In fact, it is easy for us to find the system confusing due to our lack of experience. Having to work part-time jobs alongside the degree to fund living expenses can definitely be a challenge at times too. However, the University provides a wealth of information and support to such students. This is brilliant, because it allows students like me to succeed in higher education. I am so glad that I chose York!
Hi Hannah 🙂
As a working class, first gen uni student in my first year, I found this blog entry really insightful and comforting. I love how York offers help to students like us in the context of general well being and not just financially (like bursaries, which is good in itself!). Unfortunately, this is something that I have not been able to access at the uni I am attending. I would really like to encourage them to take a similar approach to York and would love to be able to have a little chat with you in a little more detail about the support York provides so that I can be really clear when it comes to discussing with student union how I can help to make my uni more accessible to WC students like myself.
Take care and thank you
Hannah Betts says
Thank you for your comment! I’ve passed on your email and query to Hannah for her to get in touch with you!
Best wishes 🙂