After the Playground
Once the university offers start to pour in, thoughts inevitably turn to September and where you will live when you start your course. If you choose to study miles away from home, you can choose from halls of residence or a shared house or flat. However, if you are going to study close to home you could also choose to be a live at home student. According to statistics collected by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, living at home whilst studying at university is an increasingly popular option.
There is a clear financial advantage and you will be able to maintain regular face-to-face contact with your family. You will get more peace to work than in a shared house and your parents are on hand to keep an eye on your physical and mental health. Nevertheless, is this really a good idea for you and is it a good idea for your parents?
The disadvantages of being a live at home student
Some students feel that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages:
1. It makes it hard to fit in – there is no doubt that living in halls of residence is the best way to meet people in your first year at university. It can be challenging because you will be thrown together for 24 hours a day. However, as you witness the best and worst of each other, lifelong friendships are often forged. If you live at home, it is possible that the peer group will develop but you may feel like an outsider.
2. Attending social events can be tricky - it is daunting to walk into an event during freshers’ week on your own. When you live in halls of residence, you will probably all attend as a group. When it comes to getting home after social events, there is safety in numbers. Getting back to your family home alone is a bit riskier. Many universities lay on ‘safe buses’ during freshers’ week to make sure you get home safely but Mum and Dad may not be so accommodating!
3. A lack of freedom - parents worry and students like to stay out late. This is, quite simply, not a great combination. You may prefer to lead your life without your parents watching.
4. Becoming an adult – having your parents continue to cook, clean and drive you around may sound like a fantastic idea but it is not necessarily good for you and not necessarily good for them. Sometimes, learning from your own mistakes is the best way.
5. There are still costs - parents may let you skip the rent but there may be increased travel costs to lectures and taxis home after nights out.
8. You never get the ‘halls’ experience – good or bad, you’ll probably never get another chance!
Advice for a live at home student
The decision to become a live at home student is entirely personal and what works for one student and their family will not work for another but there are a few things that you can do to make it more successful.
1. Work hard at your social life by being proactive in making friends. Attend all the social events and go up and introduce yourself to people. Joining societies and clubs may also help. Some universities offer special support for live at home students.
2. Find other students who live at home and organise regular meet-ups. Hang around the common rooms and get into conversations with fellow students.
3. Don’t expect Mum and Dad to do all your cooking and cleaning. Have a food budget and make your own meals, do your own laundry and clean the house. Nothing builds independence like cleaning a toilet!
4. Look for a campus job where you will meet other students.
Hopefully this post will help you make the right decision.
A longer version of this article was first published on After the Playground.