Recently I have been forced to realise how much many people struggle when coming to university. Not only are you often living away from home for the first time, but you are also in a world where it seems like the most important things are grades. It is often difficult to see beyond a low mark, the struggling sensation or a feeling like you are not good enough. In many ways the university system is flawed as you are often not marked on effort, interest or passion, but on the way you write or present something. The problem with this is it is all down to interpretation, and though tutors will try and be fair one man’s perfect essay is another’s failure. This is made worse by grades appearing to be the most important part of a degree. Not only are we put in a position where our grades define our time at university, but we live in a culture where we seem to be inclined to compete. We see that one person has got a better grade and though we are happy with ours, it makes us feel worse. I am offering no alternatives to this way of marking, all I am saying is that it is a problem that many students face when coming to university.
Not only this, but as it is often the first time away from home we are not surrounded by the same family and friends who we could usually discuss this with. Skype is great, but you cannot have the same type of conversation about how you feel over a web-cam. This can result in many people feeling isolated and alone at the hardest time in their life.
University is a hard place. You can have the best time of your life, but you can also find yourself struggling with major issues. It is a time when you find out what kind of person you are going to be, and this can be scary. Many people at university are struggling with big questions such as sexuality, morality or religion, while also having to juggle their pressures of wanting to achieve the best they can academically. It is not unusual for people to feel overwhelmed.
The problem is that many people don’t know where to turn when they are overwhelmed. I was lucky enough to be able to go home frequently to try leave the worries of university back in Leicester, but I still carried many issues around with me. Especially in the last 6 months I have struggled both academically and socially to live up to the high standards I put on myself, and if it was not for friends and family back home I do not know how I would have got through it. However, other people are not as lucky as me. They may still have a great support system, but they sometimes still feel trapped by the pressures of university.
University should be a great place where you can learn and have a lovely time, but for many it is a time of extreme difficulty and I just wanted to say if anyone is feeling the pressure of university for any reason they should try and talk to someone. It does not have to be a family member or a friend, as the University of Leicester has services that can help such as the Welfare Services and Student Counselling. If you feel the need to talk about anything, please contact them or talk to your personal tutor, or even just any tutor. Just having someone to talk to might help you work out what you need to do to feel more relaxed and on top of the university experience.
In the last few years there has been an effort to make people more comfortable about mental illness, but I think that has yet to really catch on at university. Students should be more willing to ask other students how they are doing and take the time to check on their friends. We should all work together to make people feel more comfortable about talking about how they are coping with university. It is difficult but awareness seems to be the first step and we just need to be bold enough to start talking about it openly.