How to Be Supportive: Top Tips for Parents of University Students


  1. What do parents want from university?
  2. Millennial parents and university
  3. The university experience today
  4. How do students feel before going to university?
  5. Five ways to get your kids ready for university
  6. Top ten tips for parents of university students


As we tentatively hail Omicron as the beginning of the pandemic’s endgame, many feel that normality is within reach and that we will soon go back to ‘the way things were before'. However, some of our systems and institutions – universities and the student experience among them – have undoubtedly been changed for good. 🎓

Furthermore, with university fees at their highest to date, increasing rates of inflation, growing employment insecurity and a lack of clarity around the realities of post-Brexit Britain – this is an incredibly challenging time in the UK, especially for young people embarking on their futures. 

For those who have opted to go to university, getting the right kind of support from their parents is more important than ever. So, how do you support without smothering? Much of that will be down to your parenting style but here are our top tips for parents of university students to get you started. 👇


What do parents want from university?


In an ideal world, much of what a parent is looking to get out of university will be perfectly aligned with their child’s ambitions and aspirations. Sure, your child may place greater emphasis on the nightlife offering while you scrutinise the departmental facilities but – ultimately – university is about their opportunity for enjoyment, growth and fulfilment. 👪    

Reassuringly, a global HSBC study found that most parents want a happy life for their children. In fact, around three-quarters of parents in the UK say that being

happy in life is the most important goal they have for their children with 50 per cent prioritising their children fulfilling their potential over-achieving career success even. 🤗

However, the same report showed that parents in the UK are a little reluctant to ask for advice when it comes to university. Whereas over 80%of parents in Asia are likely to seek advice about their children’s university education, only around half this proportion in the UK is likely to do the same. So, it's good to see you here!


Millennial parents and university


An online millennial survey conducted by Nord Anglia Education found that Millennials now aged between their mid-20s and their 40s have grown up in a time of rapid change and an increasingly globalised world that has shaped not only their own lives but the sort of education they want for their children.

Millennial parents want their children to learn in schools that are creative, flexible and have a global outlook. When respondents were asked to rate a series of qualities they would want in their kid’s school, the most popular answer was enabling students to be creative and innovative. 🧑‍🎨

In the early 80s, the percentage of the UK population over 17 years old in higher education was roughly 12 per cent. Jump forward 30 years and that figure has almost quadrupled. What does that tell us? As well as being tech-savvy, less religious and more political, Millennials – now at parenting age – are likely to have studied at university themselves. 📚

Although this shared experience puts you in a strong position to advise by knowing some of what your child can expect to go through, given these fast-changing times, there are plenty of unknowns that they will encounter along the way too. It is important that you do your research, prepare yourself and your child and get ready to support them as best you can. 


The university experience today


These unprecedented times have brought challenges for every individual and institution to face and overcome. Both the Covid-19 pandemic and the UK’s political landscape have seriously impacted the overall university experience as we know it today. 🧑‍🎓

Increased awareness of safety on campus, enhanced economic demands, a move towards distanced and blended learning are just some of the changes we have seen take place over the last few years.

One of the biggest consequences of these adaptations has been a downturn in students’ mental health. With limited-to-no access to university buildings, libraries and resources, online tuition in place of face-to-face lessons and isolation from friends and peers, students have suffered from increased rates of anxiety and depression

With that in mind, it is more important than ever to understand what your child can expect from their university experience and how you can best support them to make the most of their time as a student. 🙌


How do students feel before going to university?


Starting university can be a wonderful and exciting experience. For many, it's a brilliant opportunity to fly the nest, explore independent interests, form new relationships and hopefully pursue a fulfilling life path.

But, it's not all dizzy delirium and eagerness. It's totally natural to feel anxious, nervous or overwhelmed during the first few weeks at university, and it can be a while before your children feel like they've found their feet. This is often the time that they will need you most. 👩‍👧


Five ways to get your kids ready for university


There is plenty of advice for parents out there but which parents guide to university should you be listening to? Ultimately, you know your own child best, so we would always say: if in doubt, trust your gut. 

In our opinion, the key to getting your kids ready for university is open communication, practising some life skills and making a plan. Preparation is key! So, check out our best preparation tips for parents of university students. 👇

#1 Have a conversation

It might seem obvious but it’s not always a given. First off, give your child the opportunity to tell you exactly what they need and act on their concerns. That way you are opening a supportive channel of communication and letting them know that they can rely on you to listen. If that isn’t something you already do, now is the time to start. 👂

#2 Create a checklist

There is a lot to think about, from student finance to getting your child’s new room decorated! Sit down with your child and work out what needs to be done and by when. Once you’ve got your steps mapped out you can calmly follow them together without stressing that you might have missed something. ✅

#3 Support with admin

We’re not suggesting that you set yourself up as your child’s personal secretary but there is a fair amount of paperwork and administration involved with getting ready for university. Get ready for incoming UCAS updates, personal statements, accommodation applications and student finance questions! 📅

#4 Practice life skills

How often should a dishwasher be cleaned? Is it possible to overfill a washing machine? How do you cook more than just pasta? What's the best way to approach living on a budget? All skills your child will need, so give them a headstart and get practising together before they go to university. 🍳

#5 Enjoy downtime

Your child is just about to take a huge step into adulthood and independence, things are likely to change beyond recognition. Make the most of these last few weeks together before they start university. Do more of the things you love like cooking together, walking as a family, watching a film, playing computer games or sports and looking at old family photographs. 🍿


Top ten tips for parents of university students


Is your daughter going to university? If so, maybe you’re questioning ‘how often should I contact my daughter at university?’. It's a fair question, but the answer is less straightforward. What works for one child may not work for another. 🤷

As discussed, the best way to support your kids at university is to get prepared together nice and early. That way you are both on the same page before they start and you will have a much better chance of staying connected while they study.

With a good plan in place, you can go ahead and implement our top ten tips for parents of university students with ease! 👍

#1 Make their accommodation comfortable and fun.

#2 Schedule regular phone calls.

#3 Mix it up with occasional messages, video calls and memes.

#4 Keep an eye on alcohol and drug consumption.

#5 Research the university services including mental health support.

#6 Take an interest in their subject. Research their topics and share your findings.

#7 Encourage them to get involved in social activities and clubs.

#8 Send a surprise food parcel or link to a tasty dinner recipe.

#9 Celebrate every little success with them.

#10 Remind them that home is always there if they want a break.

Our GoStudent tutors are experts when it comes to balancing academic achievement with having a great time whilst you learn. Book a free trial lesson with one of them today to see how they can support your child to get ready for university and beyond 🎒