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Mums Set Up Advice Portal to Answer Parents’ Questions About University

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TWO mothers have set up a special interactive online blog to help parents who need support when their children are thinking of going to university, and how to manage when they leave home.

Rebecca Breen, who lives in Caerleon, and Sandra Veasey, from Cardiff, have put together the resource so that other parents can benefit from their experience.

Rebecca is a mum of two daughters who have gone into higher education. Her eldest daughter, Aimée, 25, studied Law at Leicester University and is currently a trainee solicitor, while her other daughter, Daisy, 19, is currently a Fine Art undergraduate at Nottingham Trent University.

Sandra’s daughter Catherine, 18, is studying for a BTEC in Public Services at Coleg Y Cymoedd in Ystrad Mynach, with plans to head to the University of South Wales (USW) in the autumn to study for a Professional Policing degree.

Both women’s experience of preparing and supporting their children, as they prepared for university and left home to study, gave them the idea to set up the blog for others who may be facing similar life-changing events.

“Both Sandra and I work in the student recruitment team at the USW, which is obviously focused on new students who might want to study here,” Rebecca said.

“While looking at ways to offer support to the youngsters, we noticed that there was nothing really available to answer the many questions that parents have. They can have a big influence on the decisions their children make, particularly around finance and personal safety, so have many questions of their own that need answering.”

Having two children who had already left home to study, Rebecca has shared her experiences.

“When Aimée went to Leicester it was obviously a huge shock for me, especially as she was going to be about four hours away,” she said. “I’m sure all parents get the feeling of grief because their life is changing, and their children are growing up.

“University was very different to how it was when I went, but there were the same things which would cause parents worry, and that’s what we wanted to highlight in the blog.

“The questions about halls of residence, will our children be able to make friends, will they be OK being so far from home, how can we look after them but not interfere? There’s so much to think about.”

For Sandra, the challenge has been more about supporting her daughter as she continues to study towards the qualifications that will guarantee a place at university.

“Catherine is still doing assignments which need to be completed for her to pass her BTEC,” she said.

“Because A-level grades are going to be decided by teachers and not exams, a lot of Catherine’s friends who are doing A-levels aren’t having to worry about completing their qualifications, but she’s still got to complete all of her coursework.

“This seems to have been overlooked in a lot of the news reports about what’s happening in education at the moment, that there’s still many who are still studying so they can get a university place.

“Using the blog we’ll be able to help parents understand what else is going on and some hints on supporting their children as they complete their courses.”

Visit HERE to read the blog.

USW is hosting a number of online open days over the coming months to ensure students and parents can have their questions answered during the current lockdown. More details HERE.

Top tips for parents

Applying themselves…

Applying to university can be a stressful process for all involved, so get your child to plan ahead. Get them to look at what and where they want to study, and understand what grades they can expect to get. Encourage them to look at all the options, and to understand what they need to do to get a place on the course of their choice.

Go to an (online) open day…

It’s good for you and your child to get a feel for the university and take a good look around. While unis aren’t open at the moment, you can attend virtual open days, do campus and accommodation tours, and view student vlogs, which will all be able to give you more details about an institution and what it can offer.

Support your child…

This goes without saying, but make sure you understand the pressure they may be facing to complete course work, or the worry they may have about what’s going to happen with their studies come the autumn term. Be there for them, listen to things they tell you, and don’t interfere too much.

Money talks…

Get your head around the money situation, and what needs to be done… it’ll save a lot of hassle in the long run. Look online for information about student finance, and do it NOW – it can take up to two months to sort. Research scholarships, bursaries, grants, and loans, so you understand what you all have to do, and when.

Be there on the BIG day…

A-levels results are on August 13, with other results around that time. It’s an anxious period for everyone involved, so offer the support that’s needed – whether it’s good news or bad.  Listen rather than giving advice. The key thing is for them to contact their firm-choice uni to see first what options they have.