The road to university is a long one, and Marshall was right to start early. Gaynor Loxley, outreach and widening participation manager at the University of Sheffield, suggests looking at university courses as soon as GCSEs are over, so you can ensure you pick the relevant A-levels.
Before his teenage sons left for university, Richard Marshall taught them to make curry, bread and home-brewed beer. As a single parent, he had already passed on the “ability to live on a fairly tight budget” and involved them in running the house: “They could operate a washing machine without ruining clothes, knew how to iron – even if my advice was not to bother – and could do all those chores I’d seen new students fresh from home struggle with.”
With two children of her own (one now doing a PhD and one about to start university), she advises against imposing your own ideas about what they should study. “It’s their journey,” she says. When it comes to helping your child through that journey, however, you can be a bit more hands-on. “Parents need to understand everything to do with the process,” says David Seaton, head of student recruitment at the University of Bedfordshire. But, he adds, there is “a fine line between supporting your child and leading them in a direction they don’t want to go”. That means you shouldn’t write your child’s personal statement for them – but by all means offer to run a “second pair of eyes” over it.
Top tips for student living
Students finding a large pot of money in their bank account at the beginning of term might be tempted to splash out, so teach them to set aside amounts for things such as food, rent and books. “Helping students to set a realistic budget before they start university can save headaches later,” says Benedikte Joergensen, head of student recruitment at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Think about what practical skills they might need – not just cooking, but ironing, sewing, mopping the floor, and loading the dishwasher.
Offer some tips on keeping safe, whether it’s avoiding walking home alone or keeping drinking under control. First aid can be a lifesaver.
Tell them they don’t have to follow the crowd – and that it’s fine to spend some time alone. Student Jeremy Akhavi found it helpful that his parents told him: “Don’t be afraid to go into your room, close the door, watch a movie, read a book and just relax.”
If you’re an anxious parent, try not to show it – and don’t stalk them on social media ... but do let them know that you’re at the other end of a phone if they ever need you. Going to university can be scary, and it helps for them to know that you’re still there for them.
Source: The Guardian