Commencing university is an exciting, but challenging time for students and their families. However, there is a lot you can do to make this transition period easier for your child or partner.
Encourage your student to attend all classes and create a weekly and semester study plan to reduce stress and stay on track. Remind your student to ask questions, especially in the first few weeks.
It’s important to have a place where a student can leave textbooks open and notes arranged, without having to pack up whenever they finish studying. A quiet place for study with good lighting and a comfortable chair is ideal. Encourage your student to use the JCU Library, which is open seven days a week during teaching periods and offers inviting learning and social spaces.
There are times in the academic calendar when students really need to focus on their studies and forego some other activities. You can assist by trying to arrange holidays and celebrations to coincide with ‘quiet’ times in the academic year, such as between teaching periods. Expect your student to devote more time to their studies when assignments are due and during the exam period.
Showing an interest in their studies - becoming familiar with the course, campus and university terminology can help open communication channels with your student. Chat about what your student is looking forward to, any concerns they may have, and how you can help them in this time of adjustment.
It is common for students to worry about making new friends, the difficulty of their course, or their ability to get everything done. Providing a positive outlook can be really helpful.
Even high-achieving students can face challenges: forming new social networks, financial pressures, maintaining health and wellbeing, becoming independent learners or relocating. Success as university involves maintaining a balance between academic study and personal wellbeing, so nutrition, exercise, and socialising are important.
JCU has a range of services available to support student success and wellbeing. Academic support, wellbeing and counselling, AccessAbility, careers and employment and mentoring services are all available at no cost. If you or your student have concerns, seek information or advice from a relevant student support service.
Show your interest and support by asking about their studies, how they are feeling and what you can do to help. If your student lives away from home, make regular contact to show your support and plan a visit.
Even if you are not familiar with the topic, you might be able to check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. If you don’t feel confident proofreading, encourage discussion about what they are learning and to explain the assignment topic, which will help them articulate their argument.
Meeting new people – students, academics and other JCU staff – will help your student develop valuable support networks and a sense of belonging.
These contacts can be helpful when challenges arise, as well as for work experience and professional opportunities.
Check that they have a Medicare card, a Tax File Number, Healthcare card, personal bank account, and relevant phone apps for maps and public transport. A driver’s license and a certified copy of their birth certificate are also useful as extra ID.
Show an interest and discuss challenges together. At the same time, encourage your student to find information and services for themselves. Let them know they have your support, even if their decision may not be the one you would have made.
Acknowledging success is important. Celebrating small achievements and milestones throughout the study year will help to maintain a positive attitude and lift levels of motivation ahead of the next academic challenge.