Applying to university can be a really exciting yet stressful time. From choosing where to go, what to study, and finding a place to live - it is a time of lots of new experiences.
From the get go - university and everything to do with it can increase feelings of worry, anxiety or uncertainty. And once you're there and studying, the pressure of workload can really build up.
Created by Student Minds and UMHAN, this day is all about raising awareness around mental health at university, the pressures of being a student and how to handle it, and where you can get support, information and advice to improve your wellbeing. But here at YACbook, there's another important aspect to this day. Caring. If you're a young adult carer, going to university might be something you want to do but feel like you can't because you look after someone else. Maybe you're unsure about how to fund it, or maybe you've just never considered going because it's always seemed like you won't be able to. And for those that do make it to university, the extra stress and pressure of continuing to look after someone else, or the worry of handing over to someone else can be a lot to take on. In fact, 56% of young adult carers in college or university were struggling because of their caring role. Young adult carers also appear to be four times more likely to have to drop out of their college or university course than other students. *
Hannah, a young adult carer from Chippenham, cares for her Mum and thought she'd never be able to go to university. After support from our young adult carer team at Carer Support Wiltshire, Hannah is now able to study special effects makeup at university knowing her Mum has support in place. But Hannah still experiences the stress university can bring,
'If I let the work stress me out and get me down I find myself thinking that I’m not good enough for uni and I’m letting my family and myself down, which I know isn’t the case but it sort of takes over my head space until I’ve completed the work.'
Or Tessa, a young adult carer who also looks after her Mum. Not only has she completed her undergraduate study and received a first class, she's now studying for her masters! But the road hasn't always been easy,
'Caring while at university is an extra pressure, it’s an extra commitment to juggle. You can get a real sense of guilt but I had to remember I was my mother's child, ultimately, and that I was entitled to start my adult life on my own terms.'
But Tessa has some great advice for other young adult carers thinking about going to university or worried about the impacts on their caring role,
Depending on the nature and capacity of your caring role, going to university can be the launch pad to leave home and be independent! My own caring role involved taking care of my mother’s mental health, which entails a lot of emotional labour, so personally I found going to university really freeing and relieving.
My experience is unique to me though so I wouldn’t advise every young adult carer to just fly the nest without a second thought, different caring needs means different options/limitation for different caregivers. BUT university is ALWAYS doable.
Top advice for my fellow young (adult) carers is to look into it. Never shut the door on university just because you can’t be the standard full-time, away-from-home, #HallsLife student.
Check out our Education page for information, advice and links to support on everything from student finance, online university and personal statement writing, and some more first hand advice from Tessa, and also check out Hannah's story and Tessa's story on the blog! You are not alone.