Starting university is a significant point in a student’s life and we understand that you will want to help them settle in as quickly as possible.
What to expect
Students' reactions to starting university can be quite varied. Some will take to it very easily, while others will take a bit longer to find their feet. Try not to worry too much about initial wobbles and encourage them to get involved and give themselves time to adjust.
We have put together a timeline of the types of issues students have told us they face to help you understand the first year and included some suggestions of how you could help them with these. We hope using this resource throughout the year will help you know what to expect and feel more prepared to support your son or daughter.
Remember that universities vary in the way they do things, so your son or daughter's experience at Birmingham and the way things are done may vary from your own experiences of university, or that of their friends or family. Take some time to read the information available on the parents' Welcome pages, and the Welcome website for students, and encourage them to ask questions if they are unsure of anything.
Parent of a first year student "I love the time line idea. I know these are common problems, but to have them written like this and based on student experience is reassuring. Thanks."
How you can help
Although students start university as adults, many will still depend on their parents to some extent and so you may be their first point of contact if they want to talk or need some advice. The first few weeks after a student starts university is a time of adjustment and you should expect that there will be ups and downs. Below are some hints and tips to help you help them:
- Reassure them that it may take a while before they feel completely settled, but if they are open to trying new things and exploring opportunities to meet new people, they are likely to find their niche.
- Remind them that other students are likely to be feeling just as anxious to make friends, so being as open and friendly as they would like others to be to them will help everyone settle quickly. They will most likely find others are feeling the same way and may even bond over their common experiences.
- Having a rounded university experience and developing skills is important in finding a good job after graduation. Encourage your them to get involved in clubs and societies to gain these skills.
- There is a lot of support available at the University. Often when students are in the midst of a problem they don't remember this, so parents can often provide a useful prompt for them. Remind them that dealing with small issues earlier on could avoid bigger problems later.
Second year, Business Studies student "I still think even after two years away I still need my parents' support and I think a lot of my friends do, even if they wouldn't admit it!"
When the University should be involved
There may be times when your son or daughter needs more specialist advice or support. You will probably be in the best position to know if their behaviour is normal for them or a cause for concern. If this is the case you can direct them to seek help from an appropriate service.
Each student at the University is assigned a personal tutor. They should be students' first point of contact about any academic-related issue and can refer students on to other services as appropriate.
Schools and Departments have dedicated Welfare Tutors who can help students with non-academic concerns, or concerns about their wellbeing. If students are unsure who this is they should contact their Personal Tutor, who can refer them to the appropriate person or service.
Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Student Experience
If students feel unable to talk to their Personal/Welfare Tutor or issues remain unresolved after they have spoken to them, they can contact the Deputy Pro-Vice Chancellor for Student Experience. All communications are confidential.
If you have a serious concern about a student's wellbeing, please contact Security in the first instance and provide them with as much information as possible. Please note that University staff will not usually be able to provide you with updates or information about students, but they may be able to encourage your son or daughter to contact you.
University support services
The University has a full range of specialist student services. Use the issue-based student support website to find out what's available to help your son or daughter.
The University has also produced a series of Self Help Guides which provide practical advice and support for a range of issues.