Blog post

Five top tips for parents to help prepare their children for university

Gareth Hughes, Psychotherapist and Research Lead – Student Wellbeing at the University of Derby, gives his top tips to parents to help their children avoid tripping up when they first start university.

By Gareth Hughes - 3 August 2018

Top tips:


Talk to them about their expectations of university and encourage them to rehearse lots of potential versions of how it might be, positive and negative. What if you do meet good friends right away, will you stick with them or seek out others? What if you don’t, how will you go looking for people to be friends with?


Being able to confidently take care of the practical aspects of being a student, really makes the transition easier. Being able to cook meals, shop for food, timetable, study independently or manage a budget will stand them in good stead and it isn’t too late to practice or make a start for the first time. Talk to them about their current strengths and weaknesses and build a plan to use their strengths to their advantage and improve on their weaknesses before their first day.


Talk to them about the fact that ups and downs at university are normal and perfectly ok. Encourage them to look after themselves, do things they enjoy early on, stay active and get involved in university as much as possible. It might also help if you check out their university website to see what support is available, so they know where to turn if they do experience difficulties.


Encourage them to think about the type of friends they would like to have and where they might find them at university. They may get lucky and meet their best friends in their flat or on their course but it is wise not to rely on this. Help them to investigate what clubs and societies are available that they could join.


Getting a degree is sometimes difficult – and that is ok. It is supposed to be, that’s why it’s worth having. Reassure them that if they made it into university they have the academic ability to be there. However, they may benefit from developing their academics skills, so getting them to talk to a tutor or study skills advisor might help.

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About the author

Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes
Psychotherapist Research Lead - Student Wellbeing

Gareth is a psychotherapist, researcher, tutor and campaigner in the field of university mental health and wellbeing.