A parent’s guide to: Preparing Your Child for University

The School Report Blog

A parent’s guide to: Preparing Your Child for University


As a parent who hasn’t attended university, the prospect of your child embarking on this journey can feel both exciting and daunting. From navigating the application process to supporting your child through the challenges of independent living, there’s a lot to consider. In this blog, we’ll start to cover things you need to know to prepare your child for university life, from moving into accommodation to accessing academic and mental health support.


Understanding the Application Timeline

The timeline for applying to and entering university can vary depending on your child’s circumstances and chosen course. In general, the application process begins in the autumn of your child’s final year of school or college. They’ll need to research courses, write a personal statement, and submit their application through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) by the deadline, typically in January.

After submitting their application, your child may receive offers from universities between January and May. They’ll then need to make their final decision and reply to offers by the deadline set by UCAS. Once they’ve accepted an offer, they’ll receive further instructions on enrolment and preparing for university life, including accommodation arrangements and student finance. Students then start their course in the September or October.


Moving into Accommodation

Moving into university accommodation marks the beginning of your child’s journey to independence. Whether they’re living in halls of residence or renting privately, this transition can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. As a parent, you can support your child by helping them pack, providing emotional reassurance, and discussing any concerns they may have about living away from home.

Encourage your child to get involved in their new community by attending orientation events, joining clubs and societies, and making an effort to get to know their flatmates. Remind them that it’s normal to feel homesick or overwhelmed at first, but with time, they’ll adjust to their new surroundings and make lifelong friends.

Living Independently

Living independently at university offers your child the opportunity to develop crucial life skills such as budgeting, cooking, and time management. Encourage your child to take responsibility for managing their finances, cooking healthy meals, and keeping their living space clean and organised.

Remind them to stay connected with friends and family for emotional support, but also to seek out new social opportunities and experiences. Encourage open communication with your child about any challenges they may be facing, and offer guidance and reassurance as they navigate the ups and downs of independent living.


Getting a Part-Time Job

Many students choose to work part-time alongside their studies to supplement their income and gain valuable work experience. Encourage your child to explore part-time job opportunities on campus or in the local area that fit around their academic schedule. Working part-time can help them develop essential skills such as time management, communication, and teamwork, while also providing financial independence.

However, it’s important to remind your child to prioritize their studies and not to overcommit themselves with work. Balancing work and academics can be challenging, so encourage them to seek support from their university’s careers service or academic advisors if needed.


Support at University

University can be a challenging time for many students, and it’s important to prioritise their mental health and wellbeing. Most universities offer a range of support services and resources to help students manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns.

Encourage your child to familiarise themselves with the mental health services available on campus, including counselling, peer support groups, and online resources. Remind them that it’s okay to ask for help if they’re struggling, and reassure them that seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.


Disability Support

If your child has a disability or long-term health condition, they may be entitled to additional support and accommodations at university. Encourage them to disclose their needs to their university’s disability support team as early as possible, so that appropriate arrangements can be put in place.

Universities are legally obligated to provide reasonable adjustments to support students with disabilities, such as extra time in exams, accessible accommodation, and assistive technology. Remind your child that their disability does not define them, and encourage them to advocate for their needs and rights throughout their university journey.


Wellbeing Support at University

In addition to mental health and disability support, universities also offer a range of wellbeing services to help students maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle. This may include workshops and seminars on topics such as mindfulness, stress management, and healthy living.

Encourage your child to take advantage of these resources and to prioritise self-care during their time at university. Remind them to make time for activities they enjoy, such as exercise, hobbies, and spending time with friends, to help them recharge and stay resilient in the face of academic and personal challenges.


Academic Support

Remind your child that they’re not alone in their academic journey. Most universities provide academic support services to help students succeed in their studies, including personal tutors, peer mentors, and peer-assisted learning programs.

Encourage your child to form positive relationships with their academic tutors and peers, and to seek help and feedback whenever they need it. Remind them that it’s okay to struggle with their coursework from time to time, and that asking for support is a proactive step towards improvement and success.

Skills Development Support at University

Finally, university is not just about academic learning; it’s also about personal and professional development. Encourage your child to take advantage of the skills development support services offered by their university, such as career counselling, workshops, and networking events.

These resources can help your child build essential skills such as communication, problem-solving, and leadership, which will be valuable in their future career. Encourage them to seek out opportunities for internships, work placements, and volunteering to gain practical experience and enhance their employability.


Dr Andrew Ross

Andrew was the first in his family to go to university, he got a degree and then a PhD in Chemistry. He is now the Head of Access and Participation at the University of Bath where he leads teams of people who support children to develop the skills and knowledge to make the best choices for them.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/drandrewross/    /    @drandrewross