Education News Unleashed

Striking Out On Their Own – The Challenges Facing New Students

Your student child’s success at university depends on various factors, such as independent study, time management, personal hygiene, and maintaining a healthy diet. Although the dropout rates have slightly increased to 6%, most students still have a happy and successful time at university, according to the Social Market Foundation.

Universities are now focusing on mental health since the number of students seeking counselling has doubled in some institutions. Furthermore, 25% of students have reported experiencing depression, anxiety, or related conditions, according to YouGov.

Karen Levi, a university lecturer, suggests concentrating on building a social life in the first month rather than academics. Her son struggled to bond with his flatmates and was mostly alone, which led him to leave the University of Sussex during his second term. In Levi’s opinion, academic staff need to do more to help students mingle, as students might spend most of their time on their computers instead of socializing. Levi believes confidentiality prevents universities from contacting parents – even if there is something wrong with the student – unless the student consents. The ones who need help the most are usually the least likely to ask for it. Levi encouraged her son to see a private counsellor, and he found a job to improve his well-being before returning to student life.

Hilly Janes, who teaches first-years at two universities, explains that some students struggle because schools offer little time for exploring concepts and ideas, stressing the importance of parents to encourage their children to broaden their horizons before leaving. This also includes teaching basic online research skills, even though it can be challenging when children have their minds set on something else.

Once students arrive at university, they can improve their study skills, like note-taking, essay writing, and using the library, to help feel less overwhelmed since unstructured days with little contact can get them off course. Janes suggests that parents should maintain low-key communication to stay informed and offer support when necessary, so potential breakdowns or missed deadlines do not come as a shock.

New analytical software is being tested this year in 20 institutions to detect students who may be struggling. It analyses study habits, evaluates previous grades, and identifies those who may be at risk. Education specialists Jisc is an organization planning to roll out this technology more widely next year, although students who are uncomfortable with this technology can opt-out.

Veronica Moore, head of counseling and disability at Loughborough University, recommends finding the balance of communicating with students healthily. Loughborough and other universities, including York, have introduced a warden system to keep an eye on new students in the halls and locate those who may be vulnerable. Yet, this can be challenging since students’ needs and moods change rapidly while moving away from home.

To maintain a healthy university life, new students should register with a doctor, and some universities offer GP services on campus. Students should try not to isolate themselves while initiating conversations, attend events independently, and speak to personal tutors about their general well-being.

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To combat homesickness, consider joining clubs or societies, or getting involved with job or volunteer opportunities. Keeping yourself busy can distract from feelings of homesickness. Establishing a routine can also create a sense of stability and comfort.

Avoid calling or visiting home too frequently. While catching up with loved ones can offer temporary relief, it may also intensify feelings of longing and nostalgia.

If you find yourself struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out to student support services or accommodation wardens. Many universities provide confidential counseling sessions free of charge.

It’s important to remember that homesickness is a common experience for many students. While the first few weeks of school may feel overwhelming, most students settle in during the first term. Keep in mind that things will eventually improve.