Getting advice

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Sometimes, things don't always go to plan, but there's always someone to talk to. Here's some guidance written by a former student on what to do if things aren't going how you expected.

University can be built up to an unachievable standard by the things you see in movies, read in books, or hear from others having the time of their lives at uni. But no two academic journeys are the same. Sometimes, things can go wrong and that’s okay. 

The University, and the Union, are here to support you, and can help you if things don’t go quite to plan.

If you don’t like your course…

Ask yourself why. Is it that you’re truly not enjoying the syllabus or because you don’t feel like you’ve settled into university life yet? 

Speak to your tutor and they can talk you through what you are finding difficult and discuss your options. Perhaps you could do a joint honours instead, or swap courses. Though be aware that there is often a deadline within faculties of when you can change courses.

The best thing to do in this situation is to talk to people; the University, the Union, your parents, your friends and decide what is best for you - there are no right or wrong answers! The Union Advice Service is a great place for impartial advice and guidance. Lots of people swap courses at the beginning of the year, so don’t feel like you are alone.

You’re having trouble making friends, or settling in to ‘uni life’...

University can get overwhelming, as you are put into a position where you do not know anyone and you are in a completely unfamiliar environment. The best advice is to throw yourself into everything! Go to your lectures, join a society, go to talks and talk to anyone and everyone.  

There will be loads of events to get involved with, especially during Welcome Month, where you can try out societies and sports and take time to get to know your new course mates and flatmates. Don’t panic if you don’t find your best friend on the first day - you may meet them unexpectedly. 

You don’t get on with your flatmates…

It’s unlikely that you are going to get along with everyone you live with. You might find yourself living with a food stealer, someone one who hoards cups, the one that comes home loudly every night at 4am, or just people you generally clash with. The thing is, you’re mostly likely only going to be living with them for a year and you don’t have to be best friends with them. 

Before you take action, try getting to know them a bit and be friendly.  You may find after a few weeks you can ask them to turn down the music with little grumbles, and you keep your cups in your room - it can be a working relationship, if not a friendship. 

If you do seriously dread being in your flat and avoiding your flatmates, and you find it is impacting your mental and emotional wellbeing, you can talk to the Student Accommodation Team or try the conflict resolution service, Sort it Out

The unexpected happens...

Life has a habit of doing unexpected things. You may fall ill, have an injury, an emergency or a bereavement in the family, all of which aren’t easy to cope with at the best of times, least of all when you have a deadline fast approaching. Don’t stress trying to manage and cope with everything on your own. 

You can speak to your tutor and submit a ‘extenuating circumstances’ form, which will explain what has happened and either give you an extension on your deadline, or take into consideration what has happened when your work is being marked. The Union Advice Service can help you submit this form and evidence and help you through the process. 

Do remember though, this isn’t always accepted and the university can choose to reject the request.

You fail a module...

Failing a module may seem like the end of the world but it doesn’t need to be. 

Firstly, the Unit Assessment Board (UAB) will state what you must do to recover the failure. This may be re-submitting a piece of work, or repeating the unit in full. Speak to your tutor and assessment coordinator to get some feedback on how you can do better. The Union Advice Service can help you through this process and offer advice on what you can do.

The main thing is to remain focused and not get put down by the piece of work - if you work hard, you can recover from this and do great!

You leave it too late to find a house...

You might start hearing people talk about deciding your next student accommodation from December. Our advice is to use the Christmas break to start thinking about what you'd like from your next student accommodation, but by no means do you need to have looked at properties yet. 

Most students have decided where they are going to be living by Easter. Keep thinking about your next move from the start of the second term. It's a good idea to start a checklist for everyone you’re living with, with things you will not compromise on, things you are willing to let go and when you want to start looking. 

The Union holds two housing events over the academic year. One in December, which provides the opportunity to to speak to experts in the industry and plan your next steps. And one in February which features popular student estate agents and halls in the city.

Visit our Student Living page for more advice on student accommodation. 

You decide university isn’t for you...

Although we want you to have the time of your life at the University of Portsmouth, we understand that university isn’t for everyone. 

Before you withdraw, speak to your tutor and the Union Advice Service and see what works best for you. It may be that you don’t completely withdraw from university, but instead you switch courses, university, or suspend your studies. The Advice team can talk you through all the different options for you to make the best decision for you.


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