Everyone gets nervous on the first day of university, even the parents.
In this handy guide the parents give out advice on what to expect and how they coped with their first day at university and students confess their concerns in bite-sized gulps.
Need to know what to do first or what the biggest trends will be? Read on because the first day on campus is about to be one of the biggest adventures of your life - your parents still look back fondly at theirs...
"This 18 year old girl on the first day kept telling me how awful the polytechnic (now Middlesex University) was and how she resented being there," says Victoria Silverman, mum to first year, Jack. "They had sort of tricked us by interviewing us at a delightful old campus with a mansion house covered in ivy, when in fact our course was being run in a breeze bloc campus down the road. That same day, a short blonde woman – who I came to think of as the Marilyn Monroe of Middlesex Poly - came into the canteen. She was on my course and spoke with a Blackpool accent. In her sing song voice she told a load of us who’d just met the course leader to meet her back in the bar for drinks. She was the one who got everyone together, and she’s still one of my best friends today. "
“On my first day of university I am most excited about meeting new people because I’ve just moved here and don’t know anyone,” says Nadia Mackay. “I do feel a bit intimidated and a bit worried about my new course, in case I am not any good at it, but I’m still excited about it because it is something I love.”
The first day is heavy with promise. It may feel that if you make even one tiny mistake, disaster will ensue. But don't worry. Everybody is thinking the same thing and wondering if they are committing social acts of doom. You’re not and they’re not. Just roll with it and be yourself.
“I’m not good at socialising with new people so I’m a bit worried about the intensity of the first day and all the other students,” says Luke. “However, I am really excited about how I am starting a new chapter in my life and my new career.”
Rachel Haig, mum to one son about to start university ads: "I remember my parents driving me to Uni. We stopped for lunch and I begged them to take me home again. Obviously they didn't! We arrived at the halls and I realised that everyone was in as much of a state of blind panic as I was. I also remember taking a while to get used to the 'freedom' of university and living away from home after the constraints of school. My advice to my son will be to get involved with the social side of University and not to be worried about asking for help if he thinks he needs it."
When the parents arrive in droves, dropping students off at entrances in bulk, people tend to hang around in awkward groups. Nobody wants to be the guy who keeps asking all the questions, so prepare accordingly. Call the University in advance and find out if there is a map and general guidelines for the first day. Be sure to sort out administrative tasks like registering for classes before moving in. Not only will it give you a sense of control over everything, but you’ll likely meet other people in your class along the way.
“My first day at university was a ‘find your own path in the fields’ kind of day,” says Noelle Ngobeni, mum to one daughter now attending her second year of university. “I had no clue on what to expect when I got there and when I did, I discovered I had not been accepted and the letter telling me so was lost in the post. Fast-forward to today and I helped my daughter have the best university experience. By the time she landed she already knew where to collect her student card, had a timetable and was ready for her first class.”
Noelle’s advice is to apply for university early, don't wait until the last moment. Research the institutions you want to study at and ask students or alumni to give you first-hand experience. Study hard and ask for help when you don’t understand something.
Eva Dunwoody says, “I am worried about not making friends and not having the sufficient knowledge to do this degree. But I am really excited about being able to focus on doing something I am really good at! No more science! I am also massively excited about being in an environment where I can dress however I like and really express myself.”
Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice for any student is to be confident and to use this as an opportunity to find out who you are and what you love. For many students the first day is all about other people. But remember that you are all in the same boat. Be polite, be kind and help someone who looks lost or confused. You could even make a friend for life!
“The main things I am looking forward to on my first day of uni are meeting new people that I am going to study with, having my own independence in my day-to-day life and starting a course that I’m hopefully going to enjoy!” says Katy Pearce. “The essential things I think I will have with me will be the basic necessities for me to survive independently like food, bedding and equipment. I also think a necessity is a willingness to meet and get along with new people.”
Calvin Mackay, father to Nadia, concludes with some salient advice: “It’s easy to get caught up in the nerves. Will people like me? Will I even understand my first lecture? The one thing I remember the most from those first hours was how deliciously free and liberating they were. One minute I was standing in my room and saying goodbye to my parents and the next I was alone. This was scary and exhilarating. The best decision I made was to go out and get all of my admin done first, then when I was asked to join a bunch of new people at the pub, I could. I am still friends with them to this day. So make sure you pack clean clothes, have snacks in your bag and get your admin sorted. The rest will just fall into place.”
This article was commissioned via NewsCred's NewsRoom and written by freelance contributor Tamsin Oxford.