Information for parents about how to best prepare your child for life at UCL.
On this page you will find information about:
- The best way to prepare your child for university
- What UCL does to help students settle in the first 2-3 months
- What your child should bring
- Helping your child to manage a budget
- Resources for new students at UCL
A student's needs change during their time at university. There is the initial excitement about being in a new place, meeting lots of likeminded people and starting a new chapter. Some students may start feeling homesick around Christmas time. There are key deadlines after the Christmas break and then exams in the beginning of the summer. The second year brings its own challenges, with many students moving in with friends, managing social time, sport activities and academic work. The final exams and considerations around employment after study shape the student experience in the third or final year at university.
We are used to thinking of students as adults who are able to manage independent living and studying by themselves. However, research and experience suggest that undergraduate students are adolescents who undergo a period of rapid change and transformation at university. Some students are more independent from the start, while others need more ongoing support.
If this is possible, remaining responsive and supportive to the student throughout their time at university is recommended. It is helpful if they understand that they can come to you if they are having difficulties with their personal life and/or studies.
We often come across students who are experiencing emotional challenges due to falling out with their friends, who worry that their results are not as high as those of some of their friends, who worry about exam stress etc. Students are not always willing to discuss these difficulties, as they don’t want to worry their parents. However, a conversation with a parent, relative or a close friend can provide the reassurance and confidence boost they need.
Agreeing in advance with the student that they can contact you if they are having difficulties can in some instances be really helpful to them. Agreeing your own rules about how often you can check on them or how often they can get in touch with you can be a much needed support mechanism during their time at university.
The UCL Transition programme matches every first-year undergraduate to a supportive mentor. All first-years are put in a group of 15-20 students from the same degree programme, and they are mentored by a pair of second-year or older mentors throughout the first term. They meet in person and also answer questions online.
There are various departmental induction sessions, the International Student Orientation Programme (ISOP) for non-UK students and dedicated settling-in information including the regular Countdown to UCL emails over the summer and the Welcome to UCL app for students starting in September and January.
From important documents to baking trays, UCL provides students with a checklist on what to pack for their time at university.
If you are helping a student with their packing, you may find our ‘What to bring (and what not to)’ guidance useful.
Living in London is expensive and making money go further can be an essential skill for students.