At university, there’s lots of academic support available to help you make the most of your degree. I want to tell you about some of the most important resources and ways of getting support, so you know what’s available!
The Writing and Maths Skills Centre
The Writing and Maths Skills Centres, located in the library, offer help with building different skills you may need during your degree. For example, if statistics has always puzzled you a bit, but you’re really passionate about a course that involves some stats – don’t worry! You can book an appointment and they’ll help you gain a better understanding of the topic. The same for writing; if you find you have trouble with things like structuring essays, analysis, or critical thinking, make sure to stop by the writing centre!
Academic supervisors are somewhat similar to form teachers or tutors in school. The main difference is that you don’t have a tutor who is responsible for an entire year group in university. Instead, there are several academic supervisors per department and every student gets assigned one of them. You normally meet your supervisor once or twice every term to talk through your grades, what you’re up to outside your degree, and whether you need any support.
However, you can always schedule a chat at any point if needed. They’re a good point of contact if you want to talk about any issues you’re having with your course. If you have any non-academic queries about health, well-being or any other kind of support you may need, they can also point you in the right direction. Most people (myself included) keep the same supervisor throughout their time at university. That consistency is really nice, as it means there’s someone who knows you really well.
An academic supervisor may also discuss your future plans and help point out opportunities to help you achieve your goals after your degree. My supervisor helped me to find some volunteering that facilitated me with getting accepted onto the Masters degree I want to study.
The Library and its resources
At the University of York, we have a massive library. There are hundreds of thousands of books, but that’s not all the library’s good for! If you fancy studying somewhere outside your house there are lots of desks, as well as armchairs and sofas if you prefer working in comfort. The library isn’t all silent. There are spaces where you can sit and chat, which is great when you have a group project. Beyond just books, the library has access to all sorts of resources: DVDs, newspaper archives, e-books, journal papers, and loads of films and TV series! If there’s something you need and the library doesn’t have it, they will often be able to buy it for you.
How did you find the transition from sixth form / college to university?
It can be tricky, and it might not happen quickly. In my school and sixth form, languages were taught with the teacher explaining things to us in English, but at university, all the lessons are in the target language. This was a big transition for me! I found it quite difficult at the start and felt like I struggled to follow what was happening. However, I persevered and bit by bit it all began to fall into place. Give yourself time to adjust. I can’t imagine learning differently now!
It can sometimes feel like everything is too hard, but make sure to ask for help when you need it. Your tutors want you to succeed. It’s important to remember that if you found everything easy, then you wouldn’t need to study it! You’re also not the only one who probably feels that way. It can definitely help to study and do coursework together with your coursemates, either over a coffee at one of the on-campus bars or at the library.
Office hours are (as the name suggests) a scheduled time in the week when lecturers will be in their office (or on Zoom at the moment) and can offer you any 1-2-1- academic support. They can go over any course-related questions with you if there is something you don’t understand. You can also use these sessions to discuss assignment feedback, especially if you’re not sure why you have received a certain grade.
Conclusion – help is available!
University is meant to be challenging, but if you find yourself struggling, make sure to ask for help. You’ll be part of a community that wants you to achieve your best. Be that through sessions at the Maths and Writing Skills Centres, working together with your coursemates, asking your lecturer to clarify things you’re unsure about, or checking in with your supervisor if you need more support. There’s a whole team of people here to support you!