The University Diaries : resits, appeals and support

Last time I wrote in The University Diaries I confessed to failing my end of year exams in a spectacular fashion and feeling very scared of myself. While I am still under an incredible amount of stress, I feel better than I did a few weeks ago. It has not been easy and there have been far too many close-calls, but I'm here and I'm in one piece and so far things look to stay that way.

ThatRedheadSaid: Anxiety Brain
via Google Images
The outpouring of support I have had from Sussex University has been overwhelming and the guilt I feel is very real, albeit illogical. It's a very hard thing to accept and even harder to ask for, but I absolutely refused to let my 'issues' get in the way of accessing what must be pretty standard protocol for disabled students that are having a hard time. All my life I've had to figure things out on my own, keep quiet and absolutely never speak about what was happening. That is obviously not a very healthy thing to be doing and this whole university experience is about normalising every facet of my life. 


I was automatically registered to resit the exams I failed so that was one less thing to worry about. Once the details were released I noticed that I had a 'sit' for one module and 'resits' for the other two. A sit gives you the opportunity to achieve more than 40, whereas a resit is capped to the bare pass mark. I'm still hearing conflicting information about whether your coursework is taken into account with a resit but it would be nice to have that work considered! 

Following a meeting with my mental health advisor on campus we applied for alternative modes of assessment, which were accepted that same day. This means that instead of having to endure three exams again and history repeating itself, I now have just one exam (neuroscience and behaviour) and my other two modules (cell biology and biological chemistry) will be assessed via essay questions. I also get to take these papers away from the campus and complete them at home which is nothing short of a miracle. I have 24 hours for the exam and 72 hours to complete the essays. 

I can't think of a word to match the level of relief I feel. This brings me right back to the format of The Open University and is something very familiar and I know exactly what to expect. We now know that exams are a very big problem for me and alternative modes will be considered in the future, but sometimes there is no escaping them and I am entirely ok with that. I don't want to be treated differently to everyone else. 


This brings me to the next part of this saga. After I saw that two modules (neuroscience and biological chemistry) were classed as resits, I decided to file an academic appeal to challenge this and change them to sits. It wasn't my lack of preparation that led to failing, it was a legitimate and unpredictable medical condition. I don't know if I mentioned this previously but the general consensus is that I dissociated during the exams and spent the entire exam period in a transient state of consciousness. I say that very matter-of-fact but it really does fill me with terror. 

I couldn't file mitigating evidence prior to the exam because you can't really anticipate it and it's very rare I can actually feel it happening. The appeal itself is a pre-appeal meeting, then a form (of course) and gathering your own evidence in support of your application, with no guidance at all. You also have to state very clearly what you would like the outcome to be. I probably won't hear a decision until the results of the exams are released, but that's fine. I'm still going to approach these as though I could get 100 rather than 40.

I know I am only a first year and this set of exams doesn't even count towards my final degree classification but that's not the point here. I want to show to myself, as well as the university, that I am capable and I am working just as hard as everyone else despite what is going on in my brain. I got accepted into Sussex because I excelled with the Open University, so proving that I can handle a full-time institution is pretty essential. 


I have an amazing support system. My mentor has been a lifeline and has definitely kept me from completely freaking out over this whole situation. The hospital are there if I need them but as my CPN is on leave for this month I feel super-awkward about calling my assigned 'substitute' when I'm having a hard time. Of course I shouldn't be storing all this up for when she gets back but it's a tricky situation and they're aware of how I operate. Having the support of friends is a very foreign concept but just being able to text them and 'just talk' is so special to me. So many people take having friends for granted and it makes me sad. 

For now I'm still in a state of mutual antagonism with my brain but if that is what it takes to function and get through this next stage then so be it. I'm still sober and that is the most important thing. There are some eating disordered behaviours surfacing but I really do think that's to be expected. If I can't fall onto one coping strategy it will automatically fall on the more long-standing. It's there, I'm aware of it and in control. 

I have a 'check-in' and assessment for a new group with the hospital on 18th August so I'll be sure to tell them what's been going on. There has been some weird stuff going on with voices I'd like to talk about too.

via Google Images

So that's where things are right now. What would you like to see me include in The University Diaries series? Study skills? Coping strategies? What to take to lectures? It's not too long until the next batch of Freshers arrive and I'd like to be helpful if at all possible! ;)


  1. I'm glad they're being so good and so helpful with you. I hope resits/sits go brilliamtly for you

  2. it's great to hear things are working out, I'm sure you'll pass everything brilliantly now and it's awesome the uni is helping you so much, you deserve it as I know you're mega smart and meant to be a scientist :)

    I wish you the best of luck with your (re)sits and hope you know I'm always here if you need a little chat :)

  3. Thank you so much! :) hopefully we'll be nerding it up together for years to come! xx

  4. Me too! I guess they get a lot of money per student so it works in their favor to be nice... Haha! xx


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