It’s no secret that the world of education and employment have a long way to go before they can be described as truly inclusive, and for some people more severely affected by chronic illness, higher education the way it exists now may not be the right option for them. However, I hope that by sharing my story, more people in similar situations to my own will feel better informed not only about the challenges being a student can bring, but also how to tackle these head-on and have the best experience possible.
After I completed my own higher education, I knew I wanted to create a resource that would fill the gap I so painfully felt during my own student years. Although there are some really brilliant personal blog posts from chronically ill individuals, sharing their own experiences, I noticed that much of the so-called official ‘support’ from universities and welfare services that presently exists for disabled students focuses on only the academic side of university life, rather than the overall student experience.
There was no comprehensive guide that chronically ill people in the UK could pick up if they were considering becoming, or preparing to become, students themselves…
… until now, that is.
My debut non-fiction book, University and Chronic Illness: A Survival Guide, is a chatty and relaxed, yet balanced and informative, resource: one that’s sincere and realistic about the challenges of studying with a fluctuating health condition, yet one which will hopefully empower future students to make informed decisions and to really get the most out of their time at university. Essentially, this book is made up of all the things I wish I’d had somebody to tell me back then.
The advice in this book comes from somebody who’s experienced the process first-hand: somebody who knows that your reasons for going to university often stretch far beyond only the lectures and studying. My book therefore strives to encompass all aspects of student life: socialising, independent living, managing your money, and what to do when things go wrong.
As well as this guide hopefully being useful to individual students with long-term conditions, I’m also going to do everything in my power to make sure it also reaches university, college and school support staff, to help them better understand the unique challenges such students can face. My hope is that it will help to spark some important conversations about how to make the education system as inclusive as possible, and perhaps even one day, facilitate social change.
Above all else, however, I hope that any prospective or current chronically ill students reading this now know that they’re not alone. It can sometimes feel as though your hard work is going unnoticed, I know, but I sincerely and wholeheartedly believe in you. Your struggles are valid, and you deserve to celebrate every little victory your journey brings. Never forget that.
Do feel free to say hello at Life Of Pippa or on Instagram, and find out more about University and Chronic Illness: A Survival Guide on this page; you can purchase your own copy of the book here. Thanks for reading!
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