By Tessa-May Zirnsak
- Use the counselling department, but get in early
Every so often everybody hits a bump in the road, and there’s no shame is asking for a little extra help to keep ourselves afloat. Something that many students don’t know is that La Trobe University actually has its own (completely free) counselling department. Yay! However, often the wait times to see a counsellor are huge, sometimes up to three weeks so it’s important that if you think you might need some extra help, you get in early.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for an extension
Assignments are tricky, and usually they all creep up on you at once. Don’t be scared to approach your tutor or course coordinator and give them a valid reason for why you need an extension. They’re pretty understanding people. Stress also counts as a medical issue, so if you’re feeling a lot of anxiety about your assignments you’re probably eligible for a doctor’s note anyway.
- Don’t be afraid to use echo
A lot of people seem to think that using the echo system will put you in a bad habit, and let’s be real, it does. But it also means that when you’re too stressed to leave the house, you don’t have to. Often lectures are up on the same day as they’re given at uni, just a few hours later.
- Make a friend, or don’t
Friends are so rad. I love my friends, but I never really made that many in my classes.
I mean, who is anyone else to tell me that I should be making friends in my classes. It’s pretty common that people new to university will expect to make friends right away, and it can be kinda shitty when that doesn’t happen. But so long as you’ve got one or two rad people in your corner, who cares whether or not they go to uni with you.
- Join a Club
On the topic of friends, one of the best ways to actually form meaningful friendships is through a club or society. The reason this is so effective is because you’ll meet likeminded people from all different backgrounds within the university who have at least one thing in common with you. Also clubs give out a lot of free stuff sometimes, and who doesn’t love free stuff!
- Join a LTSU Collective
Collectives are a great way to meet people like you or with similar interests. We have a welfare and education collective, as well as autonomous collectives. If you identify with an autonomous group, think about getting involved! It’s a great way to meet people who are similar to you, or go through similar things. We run collectives for people with chronic conditions, carers, women, queer people and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- Do activism
Science has proved that getting involved in activism actually boosts your mental health. Who’d’ve guessed! And there are so many ways to get involved while you’re still at uni. Another great reason to join a club or society! La Trobe has heaps of clubs focused on activism, and your union is your one stop shop for getting involved with pretty much anything activist-y on campus. Oxfam and Amnesty International are really involved on campus, as well as political clubs concerned with the Australian Government. Your options are unlimited!
- Make the most of Wellness week
Who doesn’t love free services?! Wellness week is a week focused entirely on minimising stress during exam periods and looking out for students during one of the most stressful times of the year; exam and assessment time. We run a bunch of great services, including workshops and in previous years we’ve even had a jumping castle and petting zoo!
- Be aware of course cuts
Okay this is not a fun tip, but if you’re someone who copes badly with unexpected change, especially with something as important as your degree, you’re going to want to keep an eye on the cuts to education happing federally and at La Trobe. Remember, you have a right to complete your study if your course is cut, and you can always talk to our advocacy department at the LTSU if you need a hand navigating finishing your course if necessary subjects or your course as a whole get cut.
- Join Your Union
You know what’s good for your mental health? Free breakfasts on Wednesdays, free Lunches on Tuesdays, free diaries to keep organised, free legal help, free tax help, free advocacy sessions, free on-campus emergency accommodation services, free take home food packs (which can be accessed discreetly by contacting our friendly welfare officers or by asking at reception), discounted tickets to the coolest parties La Trobe has to offer, discounts at almost every food and beverage place on campus, discounted film tickets, and these are only a few examples of how joining your union can improve your mental health, not to mention accessing peace of mind knowing that someone out there is fighting to keep your course running and your university accessible.
Tessa-May Zirnsak is the La Trobe Student Union’s Disability Office and a second year arts student.
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