Parents and supporters

Parents and supporters: supporting your student

Going to university is a big decision and you have an important role in guiding your student through this experience. We hope the following information and guidance is helpful and a useful resource in enabling you to support your student.

We also appreciate that in the current global context you may have additional questions about Bath Spa’s approach to Covid-safety. Our COVID-19 advice page has FAQs and is updated regularly.

Preparing for university life

Helping your student prepare for university

  • Read our Welcome pages, including a guide to university jargon.
  • Be an educated supporter of your student - you are already doing this by reading this guide!
  • Make sure you are familiar with the range of services the University offers for your student, so you can signpost and encourage them.

Practical matters

There are a number of practical ways that you can help your student prepare for their life at university, for example:

  • being confident in safely using different forms of public transport
  • know how to use a washing machine/launderettes
  • understand their bank account and they have funds to cover their living costs while they wait for their first student loan payment
  • learning some basic cooking skills and recipes
  • making sure they have had vaccinations for MenACWY (meningitis) and MMR (your current Doctor will be able to arrange these)
  • check they know how to find and register with a dentist and doctor (Bath Spa has a University Medical Service your student can register with during their registration with the University)
  • make sure they know how to do an online shop, or maybe you can arrange for a regular delivery - parents and supporters tell us they like arranging this, as it helps to ensure their student is eating a balanced diet!
  • helping your student understand how to plan a basic budget for living costs and have a conversation in advance about the ways in which you may be able to financially assist them

Links and resources

We recommend the following resources:

  • Dr Dominique Thompson – award winning GP, young people’s mental health expert, TEDx speaker, author and educator, with over 20 years of clinical experience caring for students: a range of guides, videos and publications for you and your student
  • Leapskills – parent & supporter edition, developed by Unite students this guide helps you support your student with blended learning
  • 5 things every student & their parent should know – by Martin Lewis (moneysavingexpert.com)
  • Safe student online – expert advice on digital safety
  • Let’s Talk About It – online safety
  • Student Space – Student Space is a collaborative mental health programme to support students through the unique circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Worrying about your student

There may be times when you are worried about your student (this is natural and inevitable); they may not have responded to your most recent message or have missed a few of your calls. While there is usually a good reason for this we appreciate it may be worrying and it is important you know what you can expect from us.

If you have concerns

If you have concerns about your student contact Student Wellbeing Services who will take details, listen to you and where appropriate offer general advice. We always follow up on contact from third parties and in most cases this means gently nudging your student to respond to you.

Academic matters

Your student may say they are finding an assignment or module hard and not sure if they will pass. University learning and teaching is different to your student’s previous educational experience and they may find the transition to developing as an independent learner challenging.

There are many sources of academic advice and support for your student, including:

  • their personal tutor – this is an academic within their subject area
  • their Module tutor – the academic who leads with a specific module
  • Writing and Learning Centre – offers students support with their academic work
  • English Language Unit – for students with English as a second language
  • Student Wellbeing Services – Wellbeing Advisors are experienced in coaching students.

Failing a piece of work or a module

This may happen and is often a natural part of your student learning new academic writing skills.

We know that for many students and their supporters, failing something may be a new experience and be difficult to handle. The University has protocols in place to ensure your student has the opportunity to try again.

If there are circumstances that have impacted on your student, such as ill-health or a bereavement, they can apply for ‘mitigating circumstances’ - this will help the University to help your student.

We also know that sometimes students start a course and they realise that it is the wrong one for them - they might also realise they are at the wrong university - this happens.

What is important for you to know is that your student has options and your role is to help them get in touch with a SWS Advisor who can explore those options with them and enable your student to make the best decision for them at that time.

Our duty of care

The University, including Student Wellbeing Services, will not share any information about your student with you or any third party without their explicit consent.

Please be assured that the University takes its duty of care responsibilities for your student seriously and if, at any time, there are serious concerns for the wellbeing or safety of your student there are robust safeguarding measures in place.

Our approach is to work with your student to review options and ensure support is in place and this may include encouraging and helping them to share challenges with you. However, there may be occasions, even without your student’s permission that next of kin will be contacted, in order to escalate concern.

Links and resources

Student Wellbeing Services

Student Wellbeing Services (SWS) offers a range of professional services dedicated to Bath Spa University students, including mental health, general wellbeing, accessibility and disability, and a multi-faith Chaplaincy.

Accessing our services

There are a number of ways students can access SWS. Appointments are bookable online, in advance and on the same day, enabling students to speak at a time that is convenient for them. If they’re not sure who to speak to, students can complete a self-referral form and SWS will work with them to access the most appropriate service(s).

SWS is available 24/7 and during the night and weekends works in partnership with Bath Spa University Security Services to be a point of contact for your student.

SWS can be contacted at:

Care experienced/foyer/estranged

SWS provides an enhanced package of support for students who are care experienced, have lived in an accredited Foyer or who are estranged from their family. With your students permission we can liaise with personal advisors, social workers and support workers, before and during University; help them to apply for Student Finance and other statutory financial support. We also guarantee accommodation 365 days a year, offer an additional bursary of £1,000 per academic year for the standard duration of their course, and a designated point of contact in SWS for the duration of their studies.

Young adult carers

We understand that some of our students come to university with caring responsibilities for relatives, friends and others. If your student has caring responsibilities, for you or others, SWS will provide a point of contact during their studies. This person will be able to support your student to access the learning environment, any additional financial support that is useful, and access to University or external services to help with the challenges that sometimes come with being a carer.

Digital platforms

Your student has 24/7 access to instant information and support via our range of digital platforms – these are detailed on our Welcome pages. These focus on self-guided help, allowing your student to access services at a time, location and pace that suits them. Many of these platforms include active signposting to additional University and external support that may be useful.

Transitioning to university

Transition to university is likely to be a significant change for your student and it will take time for them to settle in. We want to reassure you that this is normal and expected. Research shows there is a predictable pattern to the range of feelings a new student may experience and the ‘W’ curve of transition is a helpful way to illustrate this (Zeller and Mosier,1993).

A graphic depicting the W curve of transition

Honeymoon

This stage often starts before students arrive on campus. It typically begins once they have chosen and been accepted to university, and continues to build as students attend Welcome Week and initial induction programs, and move into student accommodation. Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:

  • Enthusiasm and desire to meet new people
  • Wanting to get away from home and start out on their own
  • Orientation and transitional programming
  • Homesickness mixed in with all the fun and energy of their new experience

Culture shock

Students begin to feel a dissonance between their perceptions of what university should be and the reality of their transition. The newness of university life begins
to wear off and students begin to deal with the reality of the many adjustments they are experiencing. Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:

  • Difficulty finding their way around and feel lost
  • Excitement about living in the residence halls or with flatmates and on their own (having to cook their own dinners, do laundry, etc) wears off
  • Adjustment to new surroundings and expectations are hard to adjust to
  • Academic expectations are harder than anticipated
  • Homesickness may become stronger. Some students may try to deal with this by maintaining strong ties to their home and going home often

 

Initial Adjustment

Students begin to feel an upswing as they begin to successfully manage many of the issues they faced during Culture Shock. It is during this stage that students feel more “at home” on campus. Extroverts often reach this stage quicker than introverts. Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:

  • Minor roommate irritations begin to diminish
  • Students begin to make friends outside of their initial connections
  • Fall into a routine and gain confidence in their ability to handle academic and social environments of university

Mental Isolation

Commonly, this phase arises after students go home for an extended period of time. Strong feelings of homesickness begin to arise or re-arise for students and they often feel as though they are caught between two worlds. University life is still not as comfortable as home used to be and home is now not as familiar as it once was. Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:

  • Shock over finding changes that have happened at home and not having been a part of them
  • Feeling of homesickness for a home environment that no longer seems to exist
  • Doubts regarding choice in university, career and other decisions begin to surface
  • Beliefs and values begin to be challenged and they may not be able to adapt to the ideas and values of the university culture
  • Larger flatmate / hall issues surface and students tend to sit alone in their room or find outlets to escape their housing situation
  • Cliques may form and students may feel that getting to know others is harder than before

Acceptance and integration

Connections to campus become stronger in this stage due to students becoming more involved in campus activities, developing stronger friendships, and connecting with faculty and staff. Students develop a more balanced view of the university, their academic pursuits and their future. A true feeling of acceptance, integration and connectedness occurs when a student has successfully adapted to their new world. Emotions and experiences during this stage may include:

  • Students begin to refer to university as their “home”
  • They feel as though they are part of their new environment/community
  • Roommate issues are likely resolved or overcome and new friends are made on and off-campus
  • Home values are reconciled with university values
  • Dependence on parents/supporters and former peers begins to lessen

Remember: No one student is the same as another and everyone’s experience is different. Your student may move through the 'W' curve at different stages and may well revisit the different points at different times.

Useful links

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