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The University of Southampton
Enabling ServicesPart of Student Services

Course concerns

Studying at University is not easy. Students may feel under pressure much of the time, and we are all different in our ability to cope. Some students may struggle to cope with the demands on them, which may come from within themselves, from family and friends, from tutors, or from what they are studying.

It is easy to think everyone around you is coping better than you, but in reality everyone at University has to make a huge effort to achieve and succeed.

Studying is personal

Every time you complete an assignment or sit an exam you are putting yourself on the line. Doing less well than you expect may sometimes feel like a personal failure. But it is the work that is being assessed, not your character. You can always learn to study and work more effectively.

Studying also demands long-term commitment. Most courses last three years or longer. That can seem a long time to wait for the fulfilment of graduation day, and it is easy to become discouraged if study isn't going well.

It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help. If you have a concern about your course that is mainly to do with what you are studying, such as something you don't understand or perhaps whether a module or unit is right for you, your first step should be to make an appointment with your lecturer or Personal Academic Tutor.

If you do not want to speak to your Personal Academic Tutor on any issue, you can contact the Senior Tutor for your Faculty.

Problems with academic tutors and lecturers

A student naturally feels less powerful than a tutor or lecturer. Some tutors are more approachable and easier to work with than others, because everyone is different. If an academic relationship becomes difficult for study-related or personal reasons, you may benefit from advice on what to do next. Please contact us.

Avoiding the negative cycle of increasing stress

If your studies are not going well, you may get caught up in a cycle that can lead to a crisis. If a piece of work was not as good as you hoped, you may start compensating by working overlong hours, avoiding friends and activities, losing your daily routine including meals, sleeping less, and losing confidence.

Some people may respond in other ways, such as drinking too much as a way of trying to cope, or sleeping too much. All these may be ways to avoid tackling issues.  While they may seem to help in the short term, they may create longer-term difficulties and make it harder to perform well. The result of such a negative cycle could be a crisis, when you feel unable to continue.

Poor sleep, low mood, negative thoughts (about yourself, your abilities and your future) and panicky feelings are signs that you may benefit from help.If you find yourself avoiding study-related activities such as lectures or withdrawing from friends and social life, or increasing your consumption of alcohol or drugs, these all suggest that it is time to seek help and talk to someone about how you are feeling.

Your first step can be to contact Enabling Services, or First Support in a crisis, for advice on such problems.

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