Alice Goodheart is a Education and Childhood Studies Graduate and was Disabled Students Representative for two years running, here are her top tips for an awesome Freshers:
I remember the day I got the email from UCAS saying that there had been an update on one of my applications, and thinking to myself “please be an offer from Anglia Ruskin” and it was! I was over the moon, it was the only university I wanted to go to because I felt safe there and accepted. It’s not easy being disabled and applying for university, you have so many thoughts going through your head… will I make friends? Will I struggle with my studies? But you soon come to realise that people accept you for you. I have had the best time at university, and I’m going to give you my five top tips.
1. Get involved!
The SU team are amazing! I first found the SU in my second year where I applied to be a Freshers’ Hero, which lead me on to becoming the Disabled Students Rep for two years, my course rep for two years, becoming a member of student staff and running in the election for the role of FSCHE and FMS vice president. Also whilst in my disabled students’ rep role, I wrote and published the first ever Disabled Student’s Guide which has had some very positive feedback. The SU have many clubs and societies that you may wish to sign up for at freshers’ fair.
2. If you’re struggling, tell someone
Student services are located on the 2nd floor of the Tindal Building. This is where you will have your needs assessment; this outlines all the help and support that you may need to be put in place when you start your studies. They have many services that are designed to help disabled students, and are always happy to help.
3. Introduce yourself to your personal tutor
In freshers’ week you will get an email outlining all the key information you’ll need to know, including the name of your personal tutor. I emailed mine and introduced myself, this way if you have any problems then you can contact them and they are aware of your needs in your lectures/on your course.
4. Student accommodation
If you’ve chosen to live on campus, there are many disabled rooms in the halls but you must apply for these alongside your student accommodation application. Here you can outline the help you may need, for example if you are deaf you may require a pillow that vibrates when a fire alarm is going off. However, if you have chosen to live at home and commute, you will need to contact the residential services to park on campus if you have a blue badge.
5. Don’t let your disability stop you from having the best university experience
There will be many events held in your freshers’ week, some on campus and some off. The SU bar is accessible to disabled students’ and also the nightclub Evoke which the SU works closely with have disabled access, therefore you can attend the events should you wish to. These events help in making friends that may be on your course, or in your halls should you live in student accommodation. However, if you don’t feel comfortable in going out, then there are many events held in the day that will help you in making friends.
Just remember, all the other fresher’s will be feeling the same about starting their first year of university, but everyone is there to gain a degree to enable you to go for your dream job!
Good luck, you’ll smash it!