Sara Anne Nichols

I recently graduated from the University of Birmingham with an MSci degree in Geology and Geography. I joined the University in 2008, after successfully completing the International Baccalaureate Diploma. I chose Birmingham for a number of reasons. Firstly, the credentials of the Earth Science department drew me to Birmingham, the variety of the course and the experience I get out in the field. Secondly, I also chose the University of Birmingham for the excellent academic and support services that are available to all students, even once they have graduated.

As any new fresher during their first year, I was a little daunted and anxious about starting academic life. After the initial few weeks, and having completed several lectures, seminars and pieces of coursework, I began to feel like a real member of the bustling student community. I decided to join several societies and clubs, which certainly made the social side of University interesting.

One of the core parts to my initial transition into early academic life was meeting my disability student advisor. The support and guidance that I received over the last four years have had such a positive impact on me as a person, and as a student. Having the correct support services in place, alongside the knowledge that help was always available, gave me the confidence to pursue my academic interests.

As a disabled student, one of the really positive differences about the University of Birmingham was the support and guidance from the Disability Team from the Student Support Services at Elms Road. The support options that were set in place for me had a really positive influence upon my academic time at Birmingham. I initially had not realised the breadth of options and services that are available for students, and how these can be adapted or changed depending upon your requirements or situation.

During the initial process of applying for University, there are several factors that a prospective student always considers. One of these, which I would suggest to all students, would be the availability of support and advice services that the University, such as the Advice and Representation Centre (ARC), to the careers and employability centre, to the disability and learning support advice you can receive from the Disability Team. In addition, I feel that any new student should become orientated with the advice and support services that the University has to offer. Three or four years as an undergraduate is a considerable period of time. Life as a student is often stressful, so I feel that it would be beneficial if all students were aware of what the University has to offer them in terms of support and guidance.

In regards to declaring your disability or support requirements, I feel that it has been a worthwhile choice, and one which I would suggest other students pursue. I had not declared during my initial application process to University, but I felt it was an important step to investigate what the University could do for me. I was pleasantly surprised at the options available, which removed the often subtle obstacles to my academic achievement.

As a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham, my one piece of advice to prospective or new students would be to get really involved within University life, and take part in what the University has to offer. I feel that my time at University went so quickly, and I would have loved the opportunity to get more involved during my time as a student.

Despite this, I had joined several societies, and clubs, which has been a really amazing experience. I met people who will be friends for life, alongside gaining valuable experience for the CV. As a member on a number of committees within a number of societies, I became a part of something which made social and academic events happen, whilst becoming involved with the University at a wider scale with the Guild of Students. Thus, I would implore any prospective, new or current student to fully experience all that University has to offer them.


Sara-Anne Nichols, MSci Geology and Geography


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