The First Year - a month by month guide

When your son or daughter leaves home for the first time to attend university, it can be an upheaval for you both.

A new student has to deal with different living arrangements, managing their money and taking on new responsibilities. They are likely to face a variety of concerns - anything from finding the nearest supermarket to living up to their academic expectations.
Most of our students enjoy their studies, but it is inevitable that there will be times when things do not go quite as expected. Understanding the pressures a new student might face will better equip you to assist them in making their transition from school or college.

Please note that timings for exams etc may vary according to the department.

What to do before they arrive

There are a number of things that students can do before they arrive – from arranging their accommodation to getting set up with their IT and checking out transport details.  The more prepared they are the more likely they are to settle in quickly once they join us.  More information on what your son or daughter can do before they start at Surrey is available from our Welcome website.

Typical issues facing new students during their first year at university might include:


  • Your son or daughter will probably be excited and a little nervous about starting at university

What can I do?

To help allay their concerns, encourage them to take part in our Welcome Week.  Welcome Week offers a host of opportunities to meet and make friends with other students.  A variety of social events are hosted by University Departments, Accommodation, the International Students’ Office and the Students’ Union.  More information is available from the Welcome Week Timetable.  


  • When they arrive, your son or daughter will want to test their new freedom and make new friends.
  • Although many students love their first few weeks at university, others experience anxiety (about making friends or academic work, for example) and homesickness.

What can I do?

If your son or daughter is feeling homesick, let them know you sympathise.  However it is also important to try and encourage them to persist.  If they don’t then they may find it even more difficult to settle in later on.
If they live in University accommodation, they will have a mentor who they can talk to about any problems they may have.  Mentors also organise social events and help people to make new friends.  You can also remind them that the clubs and societies run by the Students' Union are a great way to meet people and make new friends.


  • By this point in the academic year, your son or daughter will probably have started to settle down into the routine of university life.
  • With the dark days of winter setting in, the first rounds of colds and flu usually arrive and any irritations with flatmates may now start to show.

What can I do?

Make sure your son or daughter has registered with a doctor, which will make things easier if they do feel ill. If they need medical advice suggest they contact our student health care service. The service also runs a variety of health awareness and education campaigns throughout the year including on coughs and colds.
If they are having issues with their flatmates encourage them to communicate with them or to talk about the issues they are encountering with the mentor in their courts of residence.


  • With the first term nearly over, most students are excited about going home to see family and friends over the holidays.
  • However, they'll probably also be sad to be leaving new friendships or relationships as well.
  • Some Semester 1 marks are released so they may be pleased or disappointed with their academic progress.
  • Some students may still be revising for January exams

What can I do?

If your son or daughter is disappointed with their grades, remind them that SPLASH our student personal learning and study hub can provide support and advice and encourage them to talk to their academic tutor.


  • As the new year starts, students again experience the excitement/anxiety of returning to university and leaving family and friends.
  • The days are very short and cold at this time of year, which may make some students feel down.
  • Students will also want to start thinking about their accommodation arrangements for the following academic year.

What can I do?

If your son or daughter is finding the time of year is getting them down, remind them that the Surrey Sports Park includes a wide range of sports and fitness opportunities, many of which aren't weather dependent.
If they seem to be experiencing more significant difficulties, you could suggest talking things through with one of the team at the Centre for Wellbeing.
Remember that Accommodation Services can offer advice with house hunting.  


  • At this point in the academic year, some students may start to experience financial worries.
  • Some Semester 2 grades are released so your son or daughter may experience a high or a low depending on their results.

What can I do?

If you think your son or daughter may have financial worries, remind them that Student Money can offer plenty of help and advice through both workshops and one to one appointments on topics including budgeting, debt management and hardship fund support.
If grades seems disappointing, encourage your son or daughter to consider why this may be and discuss with them what course/s of action might help.  If their grades are good or satisfactory, encourage them to keep on working hard to improve and to be the best they can.


  • The days are getting longer and your son or daughter can make the most of the beautiful Surrey campus and the castle gardens and riverside in Guildford.
  • With the end of the first year approaching, most students will experience exam and deadline pressure.
  • They may be excited about returning home for the summer - and sad to be leaving new friends behind.
  • Many students also have concerns about finding accommodation for the following year, or about finding paid employment over the summer to help fund their studies.

What can I do?

Remind your son or daughter that SPLASH our Student Personal Learning and Study Hub can provide support and advice and encourage them to talk to their academic tutor.
Remember that Accommodation Services can offer advice with house hunting.  Please note that many students start house hunting for the next academic year in early February.
Finally the Careers Service is available if your son or daughter needs help maximising their chances of finding a summer job.

Page Owner: pr0004
Page Created: Tuesday 9 August 2011 15:03:55 by pr0004
Last Modified: Tuesday 23 June 2015 10:35:32 by sct063
Expiry Date: Friday 9 November 2012 14:51:30
Assembly date: Mon Jun 29 19:08:48 BST 2015
Content ID: 61789
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