Tag Archives: students

Students ‘home’ for the holidays need carrot and stick

HAVE you found your usually tidy home strewn with wet towels and dirty dishes, and been unable to find the remote control this week?

Then you may have a student home for the holidays.

Yes, you tearfully waved them off to university and then yo-yoed between great sadness at your baby flying the nest and great joy at having your weekly grocery shop last longer than a day.

But now they are back, genuinely happy to see you and make the most of your great generosity.

If you have an undergraduate home for the holidays you’ll find them a different beast than the one you had back for Christmas – this one has Work to do.

Try not to question them too vigorously about why all their work appears to be due now, while they could/should have been studying all year. It’s a fact that universities’ assignment dates all come in around May because they should have been progressively learning throughout the year, ready for assessment at the end of the teaching year.

So they may not be willing to admit to you that they spent most of the year recovering from hangovers or watching back-to-back episodes of Keeping up with the Kardasians or Made in Chelsea, when perhaps they should have been in lectures or the library.

But hey, they’re young, they’re students, and you can be pretty confident that they don’t need reminding that they really need to get their head down and get studying while they are at home.

It’s always been a universal truth that students aged between 18 and 25 and in full-time education have the most time on their hands and the least worries, when you compare them with those who have to juggle work, paying a mortgage and childcare. But don’t think they have it easy these days. Those debts, already a whopping three and a half grand a year just for tuition fees, do make today’s students feel far more pressure than our generation did.

And they’re not daft, they know there’s more of them graduating than there were in our time, and fewer jobs to go around. They know if they fail that assignment, or worse still, the year, they may have the embarrassment of having to sit a module or even a whole year again, PAYING again, just to make it through the three years with a piece of paper that calls them a Graduate.

These days they are far less likely to scream “you don’t understand ANYTHING about me,” but now they have been out in the big wide world, and had to fend for themselves, you may actually be starting to believe it yourself.

They might, possibly, be panicking enough over Easter to tell you they can’t do anything but study; but it is important, mentally, that they have at least a day or two with no books and just relax. Take them for dinner, pay for a hairdresser/barber appointment, but just temporarily take their mind off the deadlines.

But once that’s done, leave them alone and don’t distract them. Be the exasperated parent you used to be and make them get to work. This may be tough, as you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with them because you know in a week or so they’ll be gone again. Back to the place you painfully have to hear them refer to as ‘home’.

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I’m NoHo, fly me. (Or welcome to Northampton and please stay a while)

IF 2,000 new people moved into Northampton this week, you’d think we’d notice, yes? Well, they have.

OK, quite a lot of them may already live here, but nonetheless there will be over 2,000 new faces arriving at the University of Northampton to start their higher education.

Meanwhile, many of our native offspring will be leaving, flying the proverbial nest, to start their studies at universities elsewhere.

It’s a week that would give the most seasoned population statistician a headache. And parents a weird mixture of pride, relief and heartache.

Bizarrely, despite hundreds of new Northamptonians arriving, we hardly seem to notice. Parking spaces become even rarer. Estate cars loaded with anxious parents bearing pot plants and boxes of baked beans might ask for directions.

But are we aware of more people in town? The doctors surgeries? The nightclubs? (If you’re a parent reading this you probably haven’t been near a nightclub for years).

Yet there are three times the students starting some Northampton courses compared to two years ago.

I was a newbie myself at the university last year, but unfortunately it wasn’t to start a three-year pub-crawl and get myself into yet more debt. I am a part-time lecturer.

And it’s been an eye-opener.

Student life has changed drastically over the last couple of decades. No doubt many of you will be feeling the extraordinary pain of financing your child/childrens’ three-year rite of passage. This will be at least £3,000 a year, for three years, for tuition and possibly the same for living expenses.

However, if you cough up for everything, you may not be doing them the massive favour you think you are.

From personal experience, both as a student and someone who teaches them today, it’s the ones who feel personal financial commitment who appear to get the most from their university life.

It’s not a universal truth, nor is it a gross generalisation. But most of the students I know who work part-time seem to be the most attentive. They know that every second costs.

Sometimes those students whose parents pick up the tab are easy to spot: they have the shortest attention spans, the worst attendance records, and hand in the poorest work.

In short, they are enjoying the cliched uni-experince without putting any knowledge in the bank. They have iPhones and MacBooks, they drive new cars and have sat-nav and therefore never actually have to explore the town they live in. It’s sad to how little they grow.

There have always been students who were helped out by their parents, from every background. None of us wants to imagine our kids living in a slum with nothing to eat.

It’s all very well for us, whose education was grant-funded by the Government. No guilt about missing lectures due to a chronic hangover, living on cornflakes for every meal until the grant cheque arrived.

Today’s undergraduates have to remember what it costs. I reckon, roughly, that every lecture missed by a student will have cost the parent about £24. It will probably be their only lecture that day.

We want our children to go to university. We’re proud of their exam results and the fact they got a place. But these days, its no longer enough that they got in. There are thousands of students and over 150 UK universities. It’s how you use your three years that matters.

The students I teach actually taught me a lot last year. I now have a far better understanding of the multitude ways anyone under 25 communicates. They might not be tub-thumping radical thinkers, but they can email, text, Twitter, Facebook, Bebo, Myspace and publish your startled expression on YouTube faster than you can say “a cider and blackcurrant please.” And the less said about chatroulette the better.

If you are new to Northampton this week, welcome. Don’t feel nervous, we’re really quite nice if you venture off campus and get to know us. . .

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