Case study

at home

Tamzin Burch has overcome personal obstacles to succeed on her course. Not least getting here in the first place. Tamzin struggles with anxiety and she worried about not making friends, about missing home. But all those worries melted away on her first day in Derby.

Tamzin Snelling tells her student story

View Tamzin's story video transcript

The first day

A new place. New people. And you don't know any of them. But, as it turned out, Tamzin's first day went so well that she'd happily go through it all again.

“Everything felt really fresh and exciting and new," she says. "I loved making friends and talking to people – it would be lovely to experience that brand new feeling again – it was brand new for everyone and really easy to make friends."

One thing Tamzin says about the University of Derby is that we have a solution to every problem. But so does Tamzin. Her successful first day may have had something to do with the work she put in before she arrived.

How it starts

Tamzin had a feeling for Derby from the very beginning. And she had done her homework - she'd visited us ahead of her course and liked what she saw. 

"I loved the vibe – there was a good feel when I came here for the Open Days and Applicant Days," she says. "I felt at home instantly, everyone was welcoming, there was a great sense of community, and I felt I’d fit in.

"My Mum also got a good feeling about the university when she came to visit with me. She thought it was great and wished she could come here and be a student too."

But, to make doubly sure we were the right university for her, with the support of her family, Tamzin came to Derby quite a few times before starting her course, including an overnight visit. She says: “I’m proud of dealing with the anxiety and not letting it stop me.”

A student holding a coffee cup in a kitchen in student halls
Tamzin has been living in halls and feels so at home that she's staying for another year

A different route into education

Tamzin's path to university has not necessarily been the one a lot of students take. She left school after her GCSEs and didn’t study A-levels. Instead, she completed an apprenticeship in Digital Marketing before joining our Marketing (PR and Advertising) course, starting with a foundation year.

She says: "When I applied, I didn’t know if I could get into university but the University was very accommodating and really helped with the process."

And, after that great first day, Tamzin has hardly looked back. In fact, she has surprised herself at how well she's done - achieving firsts on five out of seven assignments so far.

She says: "The lecturers are really supportive. One of my lecturers, Anne Wylie, has given me lots of positive encouragement. She’s told me how well I’m doing in the classes and I’ve achieved high grades. She has helped reassure me that I’m on the right path.

"And Derby has a solution to every problem. You should always ask for help, don't isolate yourself. If you’ve got mental health issues, for example, there’s lots of support from Student Wellbeing.

"My experience has been overwhelmingly positive – I don’t have anything bad to say. I sing the University's praises all the time – I’ve had such a good experience."

Taking opportunities

Coming to University for Tamzin has been about identifying opportunities - and taking them. This starts from Freshers' week. Tamzin says: "It’s really easy to meet people, there are lots of events to get involved in."

But Tamzin is also thinking about the future, about what's next. She has created opportunities for herself - and now has a part-time job within our Marketing department.

"I didn’t think within the first few months of starting the foundation year I’d get the opportunities so soon but I’ve worked really hard to get myself out there and stand out," she says.

A student holding a coffee cup in a kitchen in student halls

"I emailed the Marketing department and offered to help – I already have a YouTube channel and a blog. They invited me to help with Facebook Live as I had on-camera experience and, from there, they asked me to do some Instagram Stories on Open Days. This has led to my placement with the Digital Marketing team, where I work two days a week.

"This shows the University believes in its students, and they're preparing them for careers in the right way."

Happy and proud

Tamzin still has struggles with anxiety but her fears about fitting in and managing her studies have faded. She says: "I had a lot of self-doubt about coming to University, asking myself whether I'm good enough, etc. When I was offered the Digital Marketing job, I was so overwhelmed. Now I’m happy and proud and don’t feel I’m doubting myself all the time."

Living in our halls of residence has completed Tamzin's positive university experience, so much so that she is moving into halls again next year. She says: "I love the ease they provide. They are safe and secure, and I feel really comfortable. There are so many systems in place to ensure the safety of the students, and it really doesn’t go unnoticed, especially from a student like me who has anxiety." 

She has decorated her room. A lot. "Many people have commented on how much stuff I have," she says. "I like for it to be cosy, with all my things dotted around. I have things from home to remind me of there, and I have new things to remind me that this is fresh and exciting. I have things from my travels too. I have quite an eclectic personality, and this is definitely well represented in my space!

"I definitely made the best decision coming to Derby. I’ve had so many opportunities already and there’s hopefully more to come. I’m really excited about what’s ahead."

Foundation courses at the University of Derby

Study at foundation level

Ready to study but don’t have the grades? Our varied foundation level options could help you get started at university.

Find out more about foundation level coursesFind out more about foundation level courses
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