How to help your child settle in at uni | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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How to help your child settle in at uni

As a parent, watching your child make the move to university can be both exciting and daunting. Once, they relied on you for almost everything – but now they are becoming an adult in their own right.

And while you may be left feeling a bit redundant, there’s still so much that you can do to help your child make their first year at uni successful. We asked some of our students what advice they would give to parents.

Understand the difference

USC Urban Design and Town Planning student Mitch Tilly believes it is important for parents to understand that university requires a lot more independence than school.

“University is a big change, as students have to be more organised and self-driven,” said Mitch. “It’s a juggling act – there are so many different priorities that need to be managed, whether it be studies, work, accommodation or social aspects of uni life.”

Mitch recommends that parents take an active approach, but try not to be too harsh if things don’t quite go to plan.

“Help your child stay on top of assessment by reminding them, however first year is also an important time management lesson for students which they will need to work through themselves,” Mitchell said. “Bear with us – sometimes when juggling so much we may drop a ball here or there. But the important thing is to encourage us to pick up and learn from the past in order to find the right balance.”  

It’s the small things that can be big

Environmental Science student Jessica Bettega lives in shared accommodation and says she appreciates all the help that her family has given her – even the simple things.

“I think one of the best ways my parents have helped alleviate some of my stress was inviting me around for dinner once a week or fortnight, which provided me with delicious food that I didn't have to prepare or pay for, as well as a chance to catch them up on what I was doing,” Jessica said. “Also, although they couldn't necessarily provide help with the content of what I was studying, proof-reading my assignments was a great way for them to still be involved.”

Jessica suggests that parents can stay involved by being aware of what’s on, when.

“Parents can research the important semester dates and crunch times so they know when their child might need a bit more support, or so they can check up on their child in the more stressful times of uni,” she said.

Communication is key

Jenna Perry spent a few years in the workplace before she decided to study Nutrition and Dietetics at USC. Jenna relocated from Tasmania to make this goal happen. Despite the distance, Jenna knows her parents are always right alongside her.

“My parents were not able to provide too much financial support, and nor did I expect them to, but their emotional support during first year was very helpful,” Jenna said. “Simply listening and celebrating my first-year highs and commiserating the lows, as well as sending good luck messages around exam time made all the difference.”

Jenna suggests that parents can ask their child questions about what they are studying to help their understanding.

“I think a good starting point is for parents to know what their child’s degree actually involves and the number of hours required for a full-time study load, especially as face-to-face classes are only a small part of this,” Jenna said. “My mum and I speak regularly about my degree and the types of job prospects this may lead to.”