‘Fresher’s will be Freshers’, Sheffield student reflects on her first year at SHU

This year’s freshers are to be welcomed to university after a summer of academic stress and uncertainty. Young people up and down the country lost their first choice university place due to the government’s reckless approach to results day. Eventually the government were defeated as individuals fought against the faulty algorithm, forcing a U-turn and giving anxious applicants a sense of achievement and hope for their future. University was confirmed for many.

We spoke to Victoria, a second year student at Sheffield Hallam, about her own fresher’s experience and what this year’s entrants might expect from post-Covid university.

‘What will ‘returning’ to University look like this September? How much of your learning will be in-centre, if any at all?’

 ‘First years start a week ahead of everyone else. Welcome week is usually interactive, but due to Covid it will be online. I believe that this year will be mostly online learning, with some contact hours at Uni, for practical sessions.’ 

‘A local lockdown could be enforced if the Covid R-rate increases in Sheffield. How did the first lockdown affect your learning?

‘Nobody will be disadvantaged, as all aspects of the course information should be online. I’m not too worried if we go into another lockdown, the Uni will close and learning will be completely remote. Back in March I was in contact with lecturers as normal. Course tutor’s took onboard student concerns, helping as much as they could. Being online was actually helpful, as I learnt to manage my own learning.’ 

‘There is a heightened anxiety around starting university this September. Would you want to be a fresher right now? Is the social aspect of first year important, in your opinion?

‘I wouldn’t mind being a fresher right now, but I know that a lot of freshers coming this year will be disappointed about missing out on the social aspect of Uni. Everything else will run as normal; Societies and sports teams will be open. I know that when restrictions lift a little, freshers will be freshers and they will get the full uni experience.’ Victoria went on to add that with university being three or four years long, despite the Coronavirus restrictions, there’ll still be plenty of time to make memories.

‘What advice do you have for anyone starting University this September? Do you have any survival tips or study advice that may be beneficial?

‘Don’t be scared! Everyone is in the same boat, even more so this year than ever before. You will find and make friends, you will enjoy it and doing a course you especially love really makes uni learning the best. If you aren’t feeling good, don’t be afraid to speak out. There’s always something which can be done, people to talk to and ways of fixing your problems.’ 

Heather Davey 

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