Sometimes, things aren’t okay – and that’s okay. I’ve had a tough second year, and I’ve not been all right – but one of the good things about Oxford is the level of help available to you, and that’s what I want to talk about today.
The Counselling Service at Oxford sees about 20% of the student population at any given time, and can offer anything from a one-off session to deal with exam stress to ongoing counselling for anyone going through long-term issues. All the counsellors are well-trained, sympathetic, and have experience with problems from anxiety to eating disorders to coping with bereavement – pretty much any and all struggles that a student might find themselves going through. As someone who was never quite at the top of the NHS waiting list for counselling, Oxford was the first place where I actually had counselling made available to me, and I’m so grateful for it.
If the Counselling Service is a little too scary, that doesn’t mean you can’t get help. Their website (https://www.ox.ac.uk/students/welfare/counselling?wssl=1) has numerous podcasts for dealing with issues like procrastination, trouble sleeping, and low self-esteem (which may be useful for anyone sitting their A Levels right now!), and every college has a welfare officer and a college counsellor who are only ever an email away. Because both are in-college, approaching them can perhaps feel less intimidating, and I’ve had amazing experiences with my college’s welfare officer – who has singlehandedly approached my tutors when I’ve felt unable to, gotten me extensions, and helped me fill in tricky and scary forms that I’d been procrastinating on for way too long.
I’m not going to lie – Oxford is fantastic, and I’d choose it every time, but it’s intense and doesn’t always leave space for things to go wrong – and sometimes life does go a bit wrong! But having a strong welfare system in place helps catch you when you fall and makes sure you can build yourself back up – stronger and more resilient this time, and more ready for what life (and uni) throws at you.