Exams are never the easiest things at the best of times. Exams in the middle of an international pandemic well... that’s even less easy...
In fact, for some, it will be a lot harder. For me, it’s helpful to confront a difficulty head-on. Put a name to it, put your finger on it, and don’t beat around the bush with yourself. If we know it’s going to be harder, well what can we do to help manage it?
Yes, there are things we can do to help ourselves, and we have the benefit of hindsight too, allowing us to understand what our lockdown coping and support mechanisms are, and what are not.
Fortunately, Loughborough University and Loughborough Students’ Union are also doing the absolute best they can for their students, given the circumstances. We have processes, protections and support that you can take advantage of that can hopefully make things a little less difficult.
If you’ve made it this far and are sticking with me, perhaps I can make it worth your time by sharing two key things that I know of and believe can really help you to keep calm this exam and deadline season.
- Know what your coping mechanisms are, and who your support network is.
This is perhaps the most important thing I can share or reiterate. There is plenty of support offered to you, but also know that you are the expert in your own health and wellbeing. You’ve had the benefit of living with yourself all of your life and you will know what helps you chill out and focus best.
For me, if I know I have to focus on work or a project, I set myself clear parameters and limit screen-time. Time limits and no phone-checking allows me to become even vaguely excited by the intellectual stimulation of information which I may otherwise find boring. Your parameters may be different, but the point is to take time to consciously recognise what you need to focus on and try your best to implement it.
Easier said than done, of course, but it’s important to also be kind to yourself. Reward yourself at the end of a stint by taking some time to make yourself a tasty lunch, play a video game in the evening, do some exercise, have a video call with your friends or spend some time catching up on messages. Whether it’s been a ‘productive day’ (whatever that means!) or not, you’re never going to be in any mood to revise and prepare for exams if you aren’t treating yourself right. No guilt should be attached for rewarding yourself, no matter the ‘output’ of your work stint.
- Know that Loughborough University and Loughborough Students’ Union have your back.
In addition to the incredibly powerful affect you can have on your mental health and wellbeing by establishing and deploying your coping mechanisms and support networks, you have a University and Students’ Union which sincerely tries its best and wants to support and provide for you.
This includes specific mental health support, non-judgmental advice, and places to find community. Below is a semi-comprehensive list of some of the processes/support here at Loughborough (be ready, it’s quite a lot!).
- Mitigating Circumstances (MC) – for circumstances that are out of your control and may adversely affect your studies or performance, you can ensure this is taken into account. LSU Advice can provide you with non-judgmental advice in constructing your MC claim. You apply via your Student Portal, see here for more.
- NOTE – it is recognised that it may not be possible for you to submit supporting evidence, so do still submit your MC claim if you would like to!
- No Detriment Position – Loughborough University are committed to ensuring the outcomes for you are collectively no worse than the outcomes of the previous three cohorts of the appropriate year group. See here for more info on the safety nets for 2020/21.
- Reassessments – You are allowed more attempts at assessments or modules if you fail, or with a valid mitigating circumstances claim. The following is Loughborough’s policy on reassessments. See here for more.
- A Resit is typically when a student fails their first attempt and retakes a module or assessment with capped marks (unless Part A or F). Resits are second attempts which means they are the final chances if there are no valid Mitigating Circumstances claims. This term also applies where a student has not passed the Part so retakes an assessment even when they have credit in the module.
- Repeat First Attempt is when a student gets another first chance (with uncapped marks) following a valid Mitigating Circumstances claim.
- A Repeat Second Attempt is when a student gets another second chance at a Resit following a valid Mitigating Circumstances claim. Repeat second attempts have capped marks (unless Part A or F) and are last chances if there are no further Mitigating Circumstances.
- Academic Appeals – if you would like to appeal your mark, you can do so on multiple grounds. There is a lot on this subject, so read here for more, and know you can always go to LSU Advice for guidance and support on constructing your appeal.
- Mental Wellbeing Team – This is made up of three amazing teams who can provide you with support. To be triaged to the right people within this team, you fill out the referral form here. The three teams are:
- Mental Health Team – this team provides support, advice and information for students struggling with mental health difficulties. See here for more.
- Wellbeing Advisers – someone based in your academic school who can offer you advice and support with your stress, low mood, anxiety and other difficulties. See here for more.
- Counselling – a chance to talk and reflect with professionals removed from the situation. This team can help you find understanding and new perspectives with issues. See here for more.
- Disability Office – The amazing Disability Support Team can provide advice, support and guidance to students living with disabilities on any number of matters. You can reach out to them for an appointment or to ask a question on this email: email@example.com or by calling this number: 01509 222770. See here for more.
- As well as these ‘official’ methods of support provided by the University, there are also other places and people you can turn to for support.
- Nightline – the out-of-hours support service run by Loughborough students, for Loughborough students. This amazing bunch of volunteers are operating remotely during COVID-19, and you can reach out to their Instant Messenger service between the hours of 8pm and 2am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. See here for more.
- Centre for Faith and Spirituality – I’ve worked with a number of people from here, and they are always there to provide a listening ear, support and guidance. Not just on spiritual or religious matters too; as a person not of a particular faith, religion etc. has never been on the cards to talk about when I have reached out to them for support. See here for more.
- Community and Hall Wardens – each Hall has a warden and sub-warden team who are there to support and look out for you. For students living in town and the wider community, you have a team of community wardens there to support and look out for you! See here for more.
- LSU, all of it! – shameless plug, but Loughborough Students’ Union is a place where you can gain a tremendous amount of support and guidance. Our sections, the people, the students who keep it running. It is a place you can find your community or have help finding your place. I am always so heartened to see our student-led sections finding ways to connect with people in this pandemic. In this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to sections, societies and student groups. It may be a busy month, but we’re all going through very similar experiences, even with our many differences. See here for more.
- Also, from 18th January to 3rd February, our Keep Calm Campaign is running – featuring info, motivation and whole host of virtual events. You should see something in your newsletter, over email and on our social media!
For crisis support:
- Call your GP, visit A&E, call 111 or, if it is a life-threatening emergency, call 999.
- Samaritans – Provides confidential support, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Turning Point – 24-hour support service for urgent mental health support
0808 800 3302.
If you’ve made it this far, well done! If you’ve skimmed some of the info and have looked at the bottom to see if I have any other interesting things to say, well done too. But seriously, the list of support I have provided isn’t even entirely comprehensive, and even then there is still a lot in place for you from the options I presented. Even if you don’t think you need something now, maybe save the url of this blog. It has some handy info formatted in a (hopefully!) helpful way. And there may be a time that you need to use it.
For now, whoever is reading this, if you want to chat on anything related to your welfare, diversity, health and wellbeing, please just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Part of my job is to provide a non-judgmental, confidential listening ear, and have the ability to chat you through any of your options for support. That personal touch is sometimes really helpful, and I am always happy and willing to schedule in a chat.
Take care, keep calm and good luck with your revision and exams.