As the university welcomes first year students back on campus against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University cannot neglect the psychosocial support that will be needed by students, particularly first year students whose start to university life was disrupted. Apart from physical protection to prevent contracting COVID-19, the University is also working on being readily available and reachable to students, and to offer improved and visible psychosocial and academic support. This is why according to the theme; “save lives, save academic year”; the Teaching and Learning Development Centre (TLDC) is determined to support students to lift-off the anxiety and pressure brought upon them by the new ‘normal’, which has resulted in a new way of learning and living.
Mnelisi Xaba, Student Academic Advisor, said that “throughout the Lockdown we have been doing consultations online and referring students to various student support services, particularly student counselling as students have been dealing with anxiety and seeking psychological assistance”. Using digital platforms to reach out to students, the student advisors have been communicating diverse strategies to assist students on how to overcome academic pressure. In his advice to students, Xaba said: “Life always presents its challenges, one needs to understand the end goal because it is much easier when you are working towards achieving the end goal”. He further said students should develop help-seeking behaviour because “we are walking this journey together, we are here to assist students who come forward with their challenges”.
In the upcoming project, TLDC seeks to support returning and first year students to assimilate to the new normal and to facilitate online studying, coping with academic pressure and balancing academic and personal life.
“Students should develop the appetite to study, and commitment and consistency in what they do in their academics that would help in facilitating their studying skills,” said Xaba.