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27/01/2020: Opinion Blog: Help

Help! Depending on the punctuation and context surrounding this word, its meaning can wildly differ. Recently within my academic studies and, unknown to me, my essays were shouting 'help!'. My tutor highlighted this via the responses and grades they gave. Sure, I'm more than aware that the work is challenging - it's a degree, it's meant to be challenging, however, I suspect most people are like me and feel that degrees are taken by those younger people who've just left college or taken a year out after just leaving college. Thus, these students are young, fit and agile in their academic thinking. Most students to degree courses aren't experiencing menopausal symptoms like brain fog which brings about an incredibly short attention spans. But I am.

I was shocked when my tutor first suggested additional help, because my baseline for that kind of thing was at school and being asked to stay behind often meant a telling off or detention. To clarify, I wasn't great at school but in all my years in secondary school, I had detention only once. But the threat was always ongoing for my classmates as well as me. So, when my tutor offered help, I immediately thought it was because I'd fudged something and needed to be taken to one side for a talking to. Terrible, isn't it that my school experience has left me like that? However, after a chat with my tutor, I realised that they were simply offering me help. That was all. Just help. I'm thankful yet still a little shocked that I needed it. It's not that I thought I was brilliant (far from it), but the stress I've been experiencing from the studies but also from my hormones has been ongoing for months, and I just didn't think it would be taking its toll on my studies as well as everyday life. At first I wanted to know if other mature students were being offered help - maybe that was 'a thing' with uni but it seems it was just me. And now I've had time to absorb what the help was - not a telling off at all, it might settle my anxiety a bit. I'm so close to the finishing this degree that any interruptions could have resulted in a nightmare ending. And after 6 years of study, nobody would want that. I generally like to end these Opinion Blogs with a meaning or a message. Today's, I think, is to encourage you all to be open to help - even if you weren't expecting it. So, now armed with links to read, a strategy for absorbing information and a bit of a pep talk from my family, maybe I can continue to that finishing line with a smile. Okay, maybe a smile is a bit too much to expect. Heeeelp!

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