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How to Help Students Cope with the Transition to University

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A new educational year means a new cohort of university students moving away from home to study a subject they’re deeply passionate about. However, many students struggle with the transition to university. KMA, one of the UK’s leading occupational therapy consultancies have launched a flagship service called Equimentus Transitions.

Equimentus Transitions is dedicated to helping new students adjust to university lifestyles by supporting them to face the challenges of leaving home and overcome both the emotional and physical barriers associated with student life.

Equimentus Transitions recently helped a young man from Nigeria who struggled to transition to life in a UK university.

19-year-old Adam* was historically an extremely high achiever. He’d been studying at a Nigerian university where he was top of his class. Adam particularly excelled in English, so it was a dream come true when he received an offer to study at one of England’s most prestigious universities for a one-year student exchange programme. 

However, when Adam moved alone to the UK and started his new life, his academic performance plummeted. He found it extremely difficult to organise his time effectively and could not make his lectures on time which caused his anxiety levels to rocket. A few weeks into his first term, his lecturers identified a ‘laid back attitude’. They contacted his parents to advise that their son was significantly falling behind in his studies which caused them concern. 

His parents were extremely worried that he may not complete the programme of study. Searching for a solution, they discovered Equimentus’ university transition services online. 

When Kate Meads (Director and Consultant at Equimentus transitions) met with Adam, he described that he felt like a ‘failure’ and that he didn’t want to let his parents down. Equimentus transitions worked with Adam to identify realistic ‘wins’ that he could achieve to develop his life skills, learning techniques, and to increase his mental and physical well-being. This formed the basis of an individually tailored programme which was created to help Adam achieve a successful and sustainable transition to university.

Kate says: ‘Adam found it difficult to learn and concentrate in unfamiliar environments which caused a significant increase in his anxiety. By talking to both Adam and his lecturers, we were able to identify that Adam struggled to follow verbal instruction and would often misunderstand key information leaving large gaps in his learning.’

Using a variety of communication techniques (FaceTime, calls, texts, and email), Kate made clear and concise recommendations to assist Adam in overcoming these identified problems. 

This included providing Adam with objectives and notes prior to each lecture as one step to reduce his anxiety. Other useful strategies to increase Adam’s concentration were also introduced like incorporating regular movement breaks and drinking ice cold water. As Adam was a visual learner, videos and pictures were also incorporated into his mentoring sessions, allowing Adam to absorb the information much easier.

Equimentus Transitions worked collaboratively with Adam to create daily schedules to follow, ticking off as Adam went to highlight each achievement. The daily schedules were extremely effective for Adam and being on time to lectures reduced his anxiety massively. With the decrease in his stress and anxiety, Adam had more time to focus on his learning and more headspace to process information. 

Collaborating with Kate, Adam’s confidence in his ability to make appropriate decisions flourished and his desire to be more independent grew. Kate empowered Adam by assisting him to build on his strengths and achievements, thus keeping him focused, motivated and engaged in the process. By setting achievable goals and consistently achieving wins, Adam regained the sense of purpose and the confidence that he use to have when studying.

Commenting on the support Equimentus Transitions provided, Adam’s parents said: ‘We’re extremely proud of our son and the resilience he has developed. With the help of Equimentus transitons, he has become a happy, confident and practical young man with a positive outlook on life.’

Thanks to Kate at Equimentus Transitions, Adam managed to adopt sustainable learning strategies and developed invaluable life skills which enabled him to successfully complete his year of study in the UK. He is now a confident young man who has gained a wealth of knowledge, not just in his educational endeavours, but also for use in overall life.

For more information on Equimentus’ university transition service, click here

*To protect client confidentiality, the client’s name has been changed.

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