Common University Challenges and How To Overcome Them

Nobody said university life was  going to be easy. You suddenly find yourself in an unfamiliar city with a bunch of people you don’t know and you’re required to work a lot more independently. Safe to say it’s a big change from Sixth Form or College.

It’s okay to ask for help once in a while, and it’s okay if you have no clue how to go about it.

Here are some common university issues, and how to go about alleviating them and making first year as smooth as it can be!

You don’t understand the class


It’s about the eighth time you asked the same question, but you still don’t understand. You decide to go home and try to figure it out by yourself. It doesn’t work.


Don’t panic. Nobody gets through university understanding 100% of what they’re taught. Your first point of contact should be your lecturer or supervisor.

They are there to help and to them a student that asks questions is a student interested in the material. Schedule an appointment with them so you can ask the question in peace, and so they can explain it thoroughly without time constraints.

Another idea is to ask a classmate; it’ll work as a revision for the other person, too! Your course might even have a society, where you can discuss material.

ALSO: your university’s Student Centre will also be available to advise you on tutors or help you get in touch with study groups, etc.

You’re low on funds


You thought you had more of it but… you don’t, and asking your parents is out of the question.


Bank overdrafts. If you have a student account with a local bank,  you will have interest-free overdrafts; give your bank a call or check their website (or use your online banking) to rearrange this overdraft.

A safer bet is to try and bag yourself a part-time job. Hand your CV out to local cafes, restaurants and shops. Go to your uni careers adviser and see if they know of any suitable jobs.

Websites like Gumtree, E4S can help.

Be careful with overdrafts

It’s easy to think that this will solve all your problems, but remember that the 0% overdraft isn’t limitless. This is technically only a ‘temporary fix’.

If you are suffering financially, contact your university support service.

Getting sick


You wake up with a severe headache and a horrible flu. You don’t think you’ll be able to make it to class, but you have a presentation at 11am, a lecture at 2pm and a seminar at 4pm.


You have to make the effort and let ALL your relevant lecturers know. Email them with a quick “I’m afraid I can’t come to class because I’m not feeling well,” and also inform your classmates who can mention your absence to your class leaders.

 *ALSO: Ensure you register with a local doctor. It’s common to get ill at the start of university but if your symptoms worsen or persist, get a doctors appointment. If this affects exams and studying, get a note from your doctor. 

There’s too much work


You have exams and essays and dissertations and presentations, all due in a very short amount of time. There’s a lot going on in your life right now and even though you’re trying,  you’re afraid you won’t be able to turn everything in on time.


Extensions and mitigating circumstances. This is the last resort and one to be used as such.

Extensions can be granted if you have difficulties with the material or if you’re sick and can’t do the workload.

Mitigating circumstances are more serious “unpreventable situations that significantly disrupt student performance in assessment”; professors are quite tedious about evidence of your situation if they are to give you an extension for mitigating circumstances.

Your university will have its own policy about how to go about requesting either. Often extensions can be granted via an email request to your professor: explain you problem, be honest, and ask about the best way to proceed and they will get back to you with a solution.

A mitigating circumstance is trickier: you will be asked to fill a form and provide evidence (often in the form of certificate, or doctors note), and must do all of this within a requested deadline of the event (all this should be clarified in your university’s websites).

ALSO: Whatever you do, remember: it’s okay to ask for a little more time. Some things are out of our control and asking for help shouldn’t label you any less capable than anybody else. But remember not to wait until the last minute, and certainly don’t assume that you can explain your circumstances after missing the deadline.*


Inspiring Interns is a recruitment agency specialising in all the internships and graduate jobs London has to offer. Xiomara Meyer is a drama and creative writing graduate with an interest in psychology and the slightly bizarre. Samples of her prose can be found here