Supporting your son or daughter at university
Parents often worry about how they can support their children at university in more than just a financial sense. The first thing to remember is that moving from school to university is a big step and that it comes at a time when there are plenty of other events and changes in your child's life.
Some students struggle in first year, not because they can't cope with the work, but because they are not organised or underestimate how different university is to the more regulated school environment they are used to. Help them to develop systems and routines and encourage them to make use of the student support services at Flinders, including personal support, academic support and financial support.
Another problem is feeling unsettled or homesick, particularly for students who have moved to Adelaide from the country. Encourage and assist them to find accommodation they are happy with and which offers some sense of community. Providing pre-paid phone contact is a good way to ensure they always feel able to call home.
Always remain positive
As they make their decisions and work out what directions to take, show that you believe in them. Try to remain positive, even if you have doubts about their initial choices. Encourage them to seek work experience or simply ask the right questions so they can be sure they will enjoy the career path they have selected. The Careers and Employer Liaison Centre at Flinders can help with ideas and contacts.
At the same time, be prepared for them to feel uncertain about their choices, particularly if things seem hard or very different to what they expected. Encourage them to explore other options and to find out whether it is possible to change direction or transfer to another course.
At all times try to ensure they make decisions based on sound research and discussion. At one end of the spectrum this means using all the resources that the university makes available, at the other it means simply having someone to talk with and confide in whether it is a friend or close relative.
Help them as individuals
In general, one of the best ways to help your children as students is to help them as individuals in their own right. Show that you believe in them and encourage them to try new things and learn from their mistakes. Share your experiences and memories but be aware that while some things are the same as they were in your day, others have changed.
In particular, keep in mind that most of today's students will not settle into one career for life. They will choose, or be required, to change direction at least once in the years ahead and they need to develop the skills to do this.
The final hint is to try to find that happy middle ground that allows you to be there when they need you while also giving them some space and privacy. Our experience is that students genuinely appreciate parental support, even if they don't always show it.
Adjusting to university life
Starting university is a big step, particularly for young people who are used to the very different school environment. To help them take that step we've developed a comprehensive Start Smart program to provide the specific advice and assistance first year students need to settle in, find their way around and enjoy the academic and social sides of campus life.
Start Smart is a comprehensive transition program that replaces the conventional orientation week program. There are three components:
- activities held on all enrolment days to give students a head start from day one
- academic support activities in the week preceding Semester One
- on-going programs of academic and personal support throughout the important first year.
Seminars cover such topics as staying motivated, working under pressure, planning for success and short cuts to study.
For futher information see Orientation and transition to University.