In the role of University Counsellor we not only help students choose the best fit universities, but work with other staff to ensure their transition out of BISP and into university, a gap year, or work is as smooth as possible.
No matter which school your child attends, if you are the parent of a student in their final year of school, this is an important time for you and your family.
Maybe you have been through it before, or you are experiencing it for the first time. Perhaps you will become ‘empty nesters’ after this child leaves. Whatever the case, there will be some ups and downs along the way.
For most students, there are five stages of the “Transition Cycle” and there can be an emotional rollercoaster at each stage. Research has shown that being aware of this cycle, and understanding that certain behaviours are completely normal, can help families through this time.
Students in the final year are in the Involvement Stage. They are engaged with school activities and happy to be here. As university offers come and students begin to imagine life at university, they can start to distance themselves. This is stage two – Leaving.
Then comes the end of the school year. Reality will start to set in as they have to look ahead to choosing accommodation, picking meal plans and roommates.
They may try to avoid this inevitable change, or become overwhelmed and upset. This can also be the time that relationships come under attack. Fights happen between friends or family as students act out the subconscious feelings of fear or panic. Students may also start to be more clingy, staying home and not going out – or the opposite.
Be patient with yourself and your child. Once they graduate, the summer holiday ends, and they arrive at their next destination they will be on a high. They are excited about all the new things and people.
You probably won’t hear from them very often at the start. But then around four to six weeks in, when the novelty wears off, things don’t feel so rosy anymore, students get homesick and may be unsure of their decision to be where they are. All these emotions are stage four – Transition.
Usually after their first long break, once students return from their holidays, they enter stage five – Entering. They realise that they do feel settled in their dorm room, or new apartment, that they have friends to come back to and it’s not all bad. There will still be ups and downs, and it is normal for many students not to reach the final stage – Reinvolvement – until their second year.
Preparing you and your child with a thorough understanding of these issues increases the chances that future transitions will also be smooth. Before graduation, encourage your student to say “thank you” to those people who have influenced them during their time here.
At BISP we ask them to talk to their parents about finances, doing laundry and cooking basic dishes. By working together, we can ensure the transition to university is as smooth as possible.
The author of this article, Jacqui Brelsford, is a University Counsellor at BISP.