University Tips Blog
Image of two students working together
A headshot image of the author, Jen Barton

by Jen Barton

Student Recruitment Manager at Durham University

posted on 9 Feb '23

A parent guide to what students do outside of their course

As a parent or guardian of a young person considering going to university, you are likely to have a lot of questions. Even if you went to university yourself, things are likely to have changed.

University students are always busy. They may not have a lot of directed learning time but will need to spend time on self-directed learning. Students will also have, and need, downtime.

Regardless of the university they choose, there will be a whole host of different things they can get involved in during their spare time – I provide a guide to these here:

Clubs and societies

Clubs and societies are large part of university student life and are offered at all universities. There are a diverse collection of groups and organisations, ranging from sport and hobbies to political and liberation groups. Often students will find one or two that they love, after trying a few or more out. University clubs and societies are usually student-led which also provides opportunity for students to take on management responsibilities, such as becoming a treasurer or social secretary.


The opportunity to engage in sports varies with different universities. Some universities only have a small number of sports teams and students will need to be fairly good to join a team and compete. Other universities will have sport teams that offer opportunities for all levels of ability from beginner to elite.


You may be surprised at the vast number of things students do to socialise. Visiting cafés, the theatre (amateur and professional), movie nights, nature walks, quiz nights and perhaps pubs and clubs!

Image of a group of students relaxing on the grass

Developing transferable skills

There is wealth of things that students can get involved in that will develop key transferable skills. Most universities have a university newspaper, radio station and social media blogs for example. Students tend to run these as well as the clubs and societies which will develop other valuable employability skills.

Work and volunteering

Many students work alongside their degree. Many university locations have a wealth of part-time jobs, such as in cafés and bars during term-time when they are at their busiest.

Universities also offer support to find placements and internships that students can undertake as part of their studies and during vacation time. These can lead to the offer of full-time employment following graduation if they prove themselves to be a valued employee!

There are also opportunities to get involved in volunteering, which provides valuable experience to include on a student CV as well as a great way to give back to the community.

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