Student Life Defined

Student Life Defined

Cassie Pirelli (Welfare Adviser, University of Westminster) gives expert video advice on: What experiences can I get out of university, other than education?; How difficult is it for mature students to adjust? and more...

What experiences can I get out of university, other than education?

University isn't just about getting an education. It's also about life experience: about learning how to live with other people, how to wash your clothes and not shrink them or dye them, how to cook and how to manage your money. It's all about learning how to be an independent adult.

How different is university to school?

At university there's a lot more emphasis on self-study compared to school. You're at university because you want to be a student, so you're not spoon-fed anymore. Equally, unlike school, you're actually allowed to give feedback, so you can talk about how you felt as a student, what you feel could be done differently. At university, you have to write to complain if you're not happy with something.

How difficult is it for mature students to adjust?

There's an awful lot more mature students coming to university nowadays and, because university is such a diverse place, there's always somebody with the same interests that you're going to get along with. I don't think it's difficult for mature students to adjust. I also find that mature students take their university course a lot more seriously, because they appreciate, having been out in the working world, what a great opportunity it is to study. They tend to do very well.

Where can international students go for advice?

The universities understand that it's quite difficult for international students when they come over, but they really do like to get international students here, and so they do provide a lot of support. You'll find within the university counselling service that there'll be somebody specifically to give advice to international students on how to apply for visas and so on. The student union will run also societies for international students and probably have a representative to help, too. There's an awful lot of support out there in universities.

Who can I talk to about my problems?

There's a huge support network within the university system. So it depends what your problem is. If you've got academic problems, the first one to call would be a personal tutor. If you've got personal problems, there's bound to be a counselling service or a welfare service. There's also usually a doctor on campus to deal with medical problems. And you can go and speak to the student union for independent advice, if you'd rather speak to a fellow student about a problem.

Will my problems stay confidential?

Your problems will stay confidential if you seek advice. Any advisor will be tied by an agreement of confidentiality, so you'd probably like to sign some paperwork before you start. Any time that confidentiality would be breached, is if you are a danger to yourself or someone else.

What is Nightline?

Nightline is something which is set up all around the country for students who want to ring up in the middle of the night, and get advice on anything. You can ask Nightline anything, from where to get a pizza, to talking about coming out because you're gay, or any kind of problem at all. Nightline is a freephone number, you can get the number from your student's union and call them any evening.