5 Preparation Tips for Starting University as a Disabled Student - by former students
Starting university can be a daunting prospect, but good planning can make the process a breeze and you can concentrate on the most important part…enjoying every minute!
With that in mind, LiveYou has collated 5 top tips to have everything prepared for when you start:
1. Go to open days!
This one sounds obvious, but it’s vital if you want to pick the perfect university! If you are applying to multiple universities for the same course, then open days will show you the differences between them.
Aside from the generic benefits of open days, they provide the best insight into life there as a disabled student. You can see first hand the accessibility of the campus, but take particular note of areas such as; the buildings your course is based at, the student’s union and library facilities. The accessibility of these areas has a significant impact on your happiness throughout university. If the facilities are amazing for disabled students, then you’ll never have to worry about your ability to access all the benefits of that university and your performance there will reflect that.
Nearly all universities will give accommodation tours. These are great opportunities to see the adapted flats you will be living in. If the tour starts on campus, try and remember the accessible route from uni, to your accommodation. Knowing the best accessible routes in and out of important places will help you settle in much faster when you move in!
A final note, make a day of it! Open days are perfect for exploring new cities, so make the most of it. Go and see the landmarks, check out the shopping centres, and try and get a real feel for the city. After all, this could be your home for the next three years!
2. Get in Touch with University Staff
Contacting departments such as student support and your module leaders before university starts will put your mind at ease when you arrive on your first day.
Student support are there specifically to help you settle into university life and you are likely to be in contact with them at least once per year. With that in mind, before you start university, it is worth emailing them prior to your arrival so they have everything in place ready for you, and you have a point of contact if you need anything within the first week or so.
Emailing your course leader is also a good idea. You can outline any adaptations you might need to help you make the most out of lectures (such as sending you the powerpoint slides before the lecture), and they can be ready to have all of these in place for your first week.
3. Talk to Other Students
University is full of like-minded people and every one of them will have had jitters about starting university too.
Facebook is particularly good for connecting with other students before you arrive. Once you know what accommodation you’re in, join the specific Facebook accommodation page (a simple search should do it e.g. Liberty Quay Accommodation 2020) and you will find many others trying to find their future flatmates. Once you find them, you can create a group chat and learn a bit about each other, making the move much less nerve-racking!
The same can be said for societies. Most uni’s will have an A-Z list of their societies, along with their committee members. Many universities will have societies relating to disability, diversity and equality. This would be a great opportunity to meet people who meet others who can give you advice on making the most out of uni, and the city, as a disabled student based on their own experiences.
4. Organise General Admin in Advance
It may not sound exciting, but registering at a new doctors surgery, opening a student bank account and even getting yourself a disabled metro card in advance are all things you will need to do and is much easier to organise in advance.
When registering at a new surgery, you may need to book appointments in advance for when you arrive, particularly if you have specific medication that you will need a prescription for early on. Bearing in mind every other student will be joining upon arrival, the chances of getting a non pre-booked appointment within the first few weeks are slim. So arrange in advance!
As far as student bank accounts go, you will need an account to receive funding from various channels e.g. local councils/student finance, but a student account also gives you access to a host of other benefits such as free overdraft facilities and sometimes free railcards/NUS discounts.
5. Have your entitlement to benefits printed out in advance.
You will need this for applications to free transport services, many other services and even attractions (if they provide free PA passes). So it is useful to have all this printed out for when you arrive.
LiveYou is here to help!
We may not be able to find your flatmates for you, but we can certainly help you get other important elements of university preparation in place. LiveYou can help you with accessing funding from local councils, as well as advising you on the questions you can ask student support, on open days and help with other general uni preparations. We have been through the exact same process and are more than happy to help you!