Finding Out What Support is Available
Universities tend to be big, complicated organisations and finding out what support is available for you can be trickier than might first appear. Universities also offer a lot of support, it can be difficult to take in what all of that is and so miss something that might help you. As a result, it isn’t unusual for students to get 2 years in and then realise that a service exists that would really have helped them 12 months ago.
This is why mapping out the support available to you can be such a useful exercise (see “Identifying Resources“).
There are a number of ways you can identify the support that is available to you.
Go to Induction or Orientation Meetings
If you’ve already been to university before, you may already think you know all you need to know about how universities work and how to access support. But if you’ve moved university, you will soon find that each institution is very different and operates to its own model. Even if you have stayed at the same university, things like reorganisations can change what is on offer. Orientation meetings are arranged to make sure you get the information you need. Go along and take notes, you may hear things you already know but you’ll probably also hear things you don’t.
Go to Skills Training Classes
We know that skills training can improve your confidence and ability but they are also good places to find out about additional support. Often they are delivered by experts from support services in the university and will recommend more options, if you want to follow up what you’ve learned in class.
Spend Time on the Website
It seems like an obvious idea but it’s surprising how many students check out what is available through their universities website or intranet site. Think broadly about the type of support you might need – even if you don’t need it now and can’t imagine needing it in future. Look at research skills development, student support, careers support etc.
Speak to Peers
Pooling information between you can help you all build a good knowledge of what is around and you may also get some guidance on what other people actually found helpful.
Ask your Supervisor
Your supervisor will probably not know about everything that is available but they should have a good level of knowledge of some of the support that might help and will know who to ask if there are any gaps in their knowledge.