Need Help? You Only Have to Ask; Even If Things at University Don't Always Go to Plan, Help Is at Hand If You Know Where to Look. Danny Forman Suggests What to Do If the Going Gets Tough

Article excerpt

Byline: DANNY FORMAN

UNIVERSITY can be a wonderful, enlightening, liberating experience, but occasionally it can get you down. You may feel lonely, homesick or ill, be struggling with your work, unhappy with your accommodation, short of money or, worse still, a combination of some or all of these.

It is important to know that there are plenty of people out there who are ready to help you.

Find out who they are and what they do before you need them.

Students' Unions

Students' Unions vary enormously in size and in what services they offer.

Most will have a housing officer who can help you with legal advice on your contract, tips on what to expect from rented housing and what to do if your landlord harasses you or refuses to repair the property. There may also be specialist welfare services for women, men, lesbians, gays and bisexuals and students with disabilities, as well as a general advice centre and a counselling service. To find out exactly what's on offer go to your union's website - the information you need may already be online.

Even if they don't have all these facilities they will be able to put you in touch with those who can help you.

Medical help

Register with a GP at your university health centre or near your new home before you get ill. To do this you simply need to take your NHS card from your current GP to your new doctor and fill out the forms they will give you.

Your GP will be able to help provide evidence of any illness that has hindered your study or exam performance. This can help get you extensions to deadlines. NHS Direct (www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk) also offers sound advice on the internet and over the telephone (0845 46 47) for minor illnesses or for when you're not sure if you need to see a doctor. All health centres run a contraceptive clinic. Many will also have counsellors on hand for personal problems and some even have physiotherapists for sports injuries (or for when you have one too many lemonades at the union and fall down the steps). They may also provide services like massage and workshops on stress management during exam periods.

Tutors

With academic problems, your course tutor or personal tutor is always the best place to start. They will know about solutions to problems with your course, trouble with deadlines, issues with members of staff, changing your modules and should also be able to give you emotional support when necessary.

If you find you have a problem with your tutor, as can happen, then contact your head of department or the welfare officer in the students' union.

Careers offices

University careers offices are valuable resources. They can offer individual or group discussions about career choices, quick query sessions, reference libraries with all the major publications on careers and mock interviews with staff. …