What to expect as a Speech and Language Therapy student at The University of Manchester

If you are a new student about to start Speech and Language Therapy at The University of Manchester, congratulations, you’ve made a great choice! But don’t just take our word for it, take it from final year SLT student, Katie Budgell, who is here to provide all of our new students on the course with her pearls of wisdom…

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My name is Katie Budgell, and I’m entering my final year as an SLT student. I first discovered the existence of speech and language therapy whilst browsing a careers website in Year 12. All the research I did – along with the enthusiasm of every speech and language therapist I met – convinced me that I would find it a fascinating and rewarding job, and I haven’t been disappointed so far. Instead, I’ve found more and more reasons to be excited by it!

One of the best things about first year is discovering the incredible breadth of fields of work and client groups within speech and language therapy – I couldn’t possibly list them all out here! The variety of modules you study in first year, from linguistics to psychology to anatomy, just reflects this. It’s an amazing feeling when you find that aspect of SLT which excites and inspires you for the future.

The first few weeks of university can be slightly overwhelming, even scary. After all, everything is new: new friends, a new city, new societies, new routines. If you’ve moved out, you’re getting used to having to look after yourself; and if, like me, you commute from home, you’re adjusting to the travel. My top tips:

Don’t take on too much at once. Sure, go and have a look at what’s on offer at Freshers’ Fair (incidentally, there’s a lot of useful information there about how to register with a local GP etc). But it’s better to join one or two societies that you really enjoy or commit fully to one volunteering opportunity than overloading yourself and never having time to relax.

Put effort into building friendships. It’s so worth having good friends to share the rough and the smooth of the next few years with. SLT students tend to be a lovely friendly bunch of people so that’s a good starting point! Keep in contact with your family too, they can be a wonderful source of support.

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Work out what works for you – what daily routines, cooking and shopping plans, places to study and aids to organisation allow you to manage your time most effectively? Whatever suits you best personally. Putting these structures in place early in the term makes it easier later when life gets busy.

Make the most of your time. If you have a quieter week, go over lecture notes, get ahead with reading and practise your IPA transcription skills. It’s worth it in the long run and makes revision less stressful. Ensure you have balance by building in some downtime with friends or simply chilling at home.

Don’t panic! The transition to university life and managing your own time can be challenging. But there’s plenty of support available if you’re struggling, including the academic advisor and peer mentor you will be allocated; while you and your peers will have different strengths and can help each other out. Keep going and you’ll get there in the end!

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One great opportunity for you to take advantage of is PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions). Run by third year students, these informal sessions offer support for Biomedical Sciences, a module which many students find challenging. Hands-on activities are valuable in helping you understand and remember what can seem like an overwhelming amount of information! It’s your chance to ask those silly little questions, develop revision strategies and benefit from sharing ideas with peers. Maybe, like me, you’ll even end up becoming a PASS Leader in the future!

Your first experience of placement is likely to feel daunting, but honestly, it’s my favourite bit of the whole course. You learn so much from simply being “on the job”, both from hands-on experience and the insights you gain from meeting colleagues and patients. Best of all, you get to see the real difference that SLT – and you yourself – can make to people’s lives. So be open about what you don’t know and don’t feel confident doing, but be prepared by doing all the research you can, and don’t be afraid to give things a go. The more you put into placement, the more you’ll get out of it. The picture above (The Sounds Game) is an example of a resource I used on placement in sessions with children.

Most of all, enjoy it! This isn’t an easy course, but it’s truly rewarding. I hope you end up loving SLT as much as I do.


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