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Sally's ARU experience as a parent

Welcome to our first Parent/Guardian Interview. Today we talk to Sally who is the parent of Lucy! A first year Paramedic Science student here at ARU. Let’s jump right in!

Lucy, Sally and a third person outside the ARU campus in Cambridge

ARU: Hi Sally, it's great to have this opportunity to chat with you about Lucy's journey to university. How are you today?

Sally: Hello! I'm doing well, thank you. Looking forward to sharing our experiences with you.

ARU: Wonderful! So, when Lucy expressed her interest in attending university, what were your initial thoughts and feelings?

Sally: It was definitely a mix of excitement and apprehension. We had to consider a lot, including the financial implications. We wondered if we could afford to support her and thought that perhaps the Degree Apprenticeship path would be better. But after thorough research, University was the preferred route for Lucy.

ARU: That's understandable. Managing finances can be quite a task, especially for students. How did you approach this aspect, and what advice would you give to other parents and guardians in a similar situation?

Sally: Well, we sat down with Lucy and discussed budgeting early on. We helped her plan a realistic weekly budget, which gave her a sense of control over her finances. It was crucial for her to understand her income and expenses to avoid any unnecessary stress. She also works part-time during the holidays, which helps!

ARU: That sounds like a proactive approach. Having a part-time job along with your studies can be really helpful. In fact, we have students work with us through ARU Temps where they can support us with Open Days, Applicant Days and so much more!

So, let’s talk about accommodation. How did you and Lucy navigate through that?

Sally: Accommodation was another big consideration. We had to decide whether Lucy would live at home or move into university accommodation. We weighed the pros and cons together and eventually opted for on-campus living, which offered convenience and a supportive environment for her to settle into university life.

ARU: It's great to hear how you considered all aspects of Lucy's university journey. How did you ultimately know that ARU was the right choice for Lucy?

Sally: ARU was appealing for several reasons. Lucy was impressed by the course structure and the support available to students. Plus, accessibility of the campus and the welcoming atmosphere during the open days made her feel comfortable and excited about the prospect of studying here. Lucy was very proactive in attending Open Days and Applicant Days. We found them incredibly helpful in providing valuable insights into the courses, campus life, and what to expect. It was reassuring for Lucy to meet with course leaders and current students, which gave her a sense of belonging and confidence in her decision.

ARU: We LOVE to hear that! Transitioning to university life can be quite a journey. How did Lucy handle the adjustment?

Sally: The day finally arrived that we took Lucy to university. We set off in a full car and arrived with more ‘stuff’ than space, particularly clothes and toiletries! We quickly went out to get some storage boxes for her room! Waving goodbye and leaving Lucy for that first night alone felt very odd for both of us. Mobile phones were not as common when I went to university, I was reliant on a shared pay phone in student halls! So being able to message Lucy to see how she was feeling was reassuring for me as parent.

Lucy’s largest hurdle was getting to know people and making the brave move of taking the first step to form new friendships. We encouraged Lucy by giving her ideas, encouraging her to connect with groups and activities that were on offer, and going out for an iced latte or two to get to know people! Managing self-directed learning took adjustment – it can feel quite lonely on the days when there is no teaching scheduled. Lucy soon made friends, particularly on her course, and started to build confidence and develop relationships.

ARU: Who doesn’t love an iced-latte! Making new friendships definitely helps when everyone is in the same boat! Joining a society is a great way to make new like-minded friendships. We also have a Welcome Buddy system for those who feel they need that bit of extra support adjusting, which has worked super well!

It's clear that Lucy has grown and thrived since starting university. What advice would you give to other parents and guardians helping their young person navigate through the financial, accommodation, and application aspects of university life?

Sally: My advice would be to start planning as early as possible and involve your young person in budgeting discussions. Encourage them to explore accommodation options that suit their needs, preferences, and remind them that support is available every step of the way. Attending Open Days and Applicant Days can also provide invaluable insights from the course to student life and help them make informed decisions about their future.

ARU: Solid pieces of advice there. There is also the opportunity to join us through Clearing as well if the journey hasn’t gone as planned. So there are options! Thank you so much, Sally, for sharing your valuable insights with us. It's been a pleasure chatting with you!

Sally: Likewise! Thank you for having me. I hope our experiences can help other parents, guardians, and students as they go through is exciting journey.