It’s important to not only make sure students are prepared academically for university, but also to prepare them for living as a university student. Many may have concerns about moving away from home and living independently, where they will live, who they will be sharing a house/flat with, cooking for themselves, attending classes, and managing their studies and social lives.
To help address concerns students may have, many universities offer student life workshops - including:
“Am I going to be living off beans on toast at university?” Working to a budget can be challenging for anyone, so many universities offer a range of student finance and budgeting workshops to encourage students to think about how they can be more savvy with their spending.
There are lots of different types of student accommodation available at different universities. These sessions can help students to compare different types of student accommodation, explore the different features and rent prices to help them decide whether or not they actually need that en-suite bathroom!
“What is there to do at University X, Y, and Z?” University isn’t all about studying. Students are encouraged to use their time to try something new! These sessions can help them to find out about clubs, societies, the Student Union, volunteering opportunities and paid part-time work opportunities that exist at university.
Where possible, many universities bring student ambassadors (current university students) to support student life sessions/workshops so your students can hear and ask about current first-hand student life experiences.
In my previous role, I designed a series of student life activities aimed at Year 13 students to prepare them to live independently and be responsible. Led by student ambassadors, the college students learnt how to understand laundry symbols and basic laundry skills and how to deal with common challenging situations in shared student accommodation (someone using the last of your milk is a serious issue!). They also explored different types of student accommodation, and tasted supermarket own-brand and well-known brand versions of student foods.
I received excellent feedback from both students and staff and they really appreciated the input from student ambassadors who added in their own experiences. Even some of the college staff learnt something new from the laundry activity!
I would encourage you to contact universities and book in student life sessions. But always encourage your students to attend open days and applicant days where they can see for themselves the university, the student accommodation and explore extra-curricular activities to help them make the right choice of university as well.
Vicky Bradley works as a Regional Student Recruitment Specialist at CU Scarborough. She has worked in higher education for approaching four years, across both student recruitment and Widening Participation. She has a particular interest in social mobility and enjoys working with young people, providing them with information and resources to help them realise their aspirations. She is a member of HELOA and regularly attends regional meetings and national conferences to keep up-to-date with changes in the sector and to network and share best practice.
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