Starting at NTU: Support and a can-do attitude

By Izzi Meynell, 1st year Creative Writing NTU Student

Starting university was always going to be scary. I attended an online school for several years. The one year I attempted to return to in-person education was swiftly cut short by a healthy dose of bullying followed by a global pandemic. In honesty, I never really planned to continue into higher education; at best, I was aiming to attend my local university with no real passion for anything. 

That changed when my brother attended one of the Nottingham Trent open days and bought home a prospectus for me. I flicked through it, spotted the creative writing course, and instantly fell in love. I changed my plans the second I read about it, wrote my personal statement with one place in mind, and waited anxiously for another open day. 

Secretly, I was worried that the lecturers would scare me, my attendance would plummet, and I would drop out at the end of the first semester.  

What I hadn’t expected was to attend an open day, meet the head of my course, and find a can-do attitude I’d been desperate for when seeking academic support.  

I turned down the unconditional offer from my local university when I had an offer from Nottingham Trent. It was the first time I’d wanted to take a chance instead of settling at the first opportunity – worried that nowhere else would want me. 

I spent hours speaking to people from different teams who understood where I was coming from. My disability advice session meeting with the university was helpful. Rob from the autism team was wonderful – he listened to my experiences in college where promises were made but never kept, and he reassured me. I left feeling so happy and desperate to get to university already. I spoke to people who could support my needs, including extended library loans.   

Understandably, when it came time to speak to somebody about my Disabled Students Allowance (DSA), I also chose to be assessed through Nottingham Trent. I had only ever been treated with kindness, compassion, and respect. That was noticeably absent when I explored other universities; if I hadn’t fallen in love with this NTU already, the care shown here would have done the job.  

After my DSA assessment and reuniting with my parents, I discovered that some of my A-Level results would be released earlier than anticipated. As someone who needs to feel in control of situations, I was terrified. My parents were worried, and I went from over the moon about how well the support meeting had gone to downright terrified that the future I wanted would disappear in front of my eyes. 

I wept on the GCSE results day at my college, and nobody was there to reassure me despite my name being on their register for September. Rob, however, was at the same campus that day and recognised us. He took the time to stop, say hello, and went above and beyond to reassure me. I wasn’t even a student at that time, just another name on a long list of hopefuls. But the time he spent speaking to my family and me, something he never needed to do for us, made that first results day less scary. It restored my faith in education and the support I could have. 

So, when that first results day went well? I calculated the grades needed to get into Nottingham Trent and waited. Against all logic, I was excited about my grades. 

And I cried, overjoyed, when I woke up to check my results and found a text welcoming me to NTU. I cannot explain the absolute relief that overwhelmed me at that moment; I had made the right decision to take the risk, and for the first time in my life, I was excited about my first day. 

All the things I was offered in those meetings with both the NTU Disability and Inclusion team, and the DSA assessment centre have appeared. If I’ve had any issues, my support has fought for me, writing emails, and finding ways forward. If I’ve needed a question rephrasing, I’ve been able to bring it to my study skills sessions and break it down in a way that makes sense to me. If I’ve been stressed, overwhelmed, or needed support with something, I’ve been able to talk to Caroline – my lovely one-to-one mentor who has dealt with so many emails from me I’m surprised she’s still going. 

I never expected to feel confident enough to become a course rep. I never expected to have grades I’m so proud of. And yet here I am, after finishing my first semester with all-firsts in my assignments, finally starting to believe in myself. 

If I were to give any advice to students looking at attending NTU, I’d say go for it. They have a can-do attitude I have never seen at any point in education, and when I’ve struggled, there has always been somebody there to help me. No question is too silly, no worry too trivial – I shocked my parents by complaining about missing university over the Christmas break. 

And, if grades are a concern, remember to breathe. My course leader was willing to fight for me because you are more than just your grades. You are a person who deserves to be here, regardless of the letters on the certificates you have. Communicate with somebody at NTU, and you’ll find a friendly face to help you with whatever you’re struggling with. 

When you finish your first week, you’ll feel like you’ve been here forever. Whether you’re living on campus or not, you’ll find that NTU has started to feel like home. 


For help, advice and resources whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.

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