Monday 1 July 2019

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Going to university is important for academic and personal development, and deciding which course to study can feel like the tip of the iceberg. Whether an individual has the resources to fledge the family nest however, can be a key consideration for student wellbeing.
- Nicola Forshaw

With the cost of education increasing, coupled with expensive living costs, deciding whether to live at home with parents or to move away for uni is a serious contemplation for many students. For my undergraduate studies I made the decision to stay at home and commute to university rather than incur the additional cost of student accommodation. Whether or not this is the right decision for you depends on a number of factors; I will consider three.

First, how does leaving the family nest feel to you? I know some of my peers seized the opportunity and absolutely could not wait to jump fully into the student life experience. For me, however, the thought of living in shared accommodation with four or five other strangers and sharing a kitchen and bathroom was rather anxiety provoking, making it a less than ideal living situation in which to thrive. 

Second, what’s your relationship like with your parents? Maybe living at home for another three years is just not a realistic option. Perhaps you need your own space and independence, or maybe the relationship you have with your parents isn’t that great and the timing of moving to university couldn’t be any better. In this instance, moving away from home could actually improve your wellbeing. Alternatively, staying at home could be comfortable, and you’ll be well looked after, and you might not be ready to give up that lifestyle or family support just yet. Feeling supported is, after all, important for wellbeing. If you are estranged from contact with your family, Stand Alone can offer information, advice and support on financing your studies and accommodation.

Third, is it a top priority to go to a particular university? Fortunately, the university I wanted to attend was within commuting distance. However, for some students moving away is a necessity, especially when the degree they wish to pursue is only at a select few universities or the university they attend is key to their professional development. 

Now that I’ve graduated, did I make the right decision to not live away from my family home whilst at uni? Firstly, I must say that I really enjoyed my home comforts, and as an introvert not having to live with several other students and navigate shared accommodation suited me just fine. Secondly, and this is the best part, I actually had savings at the end of my degree and enough money to successfully see myself through my driving test. 

On the flip side, however, I felt like I missed out on making friends because when class was over, I commuted back home. There were other students who commuted, and we got to know one another quite well. However socialising with peers and feeling part of a group is important for one’s self esteem as it not only provides a sense of belonging but a support network too. Second, I wonder if I would have grown more as a person if I was involved to a greater extent in student life. I also wonder though if I would have achieved as much academically if I was more involved in student life. There is no right or wrong way in pursuing your educational goals. However, reflecting on your likes and dislikes, and being aware of your academic and career goals, can help in guiding you through this chapter of your life, and indeed the next chapter. Post-graduate studies anyone?

You can find information and advice on managing your finances here

Hello, my name is Nicola and I am passionate about supporting the wellbeing of students. Having studied in the UK and abroad, coupled with my experience in research and teaching, I understand the challenges and struggles that students face. As a Mental Health First Aider I take each day as an opportunity to help and inspire others. I also write for Students Minds to share my own experience of wellbeing during undergraduate and postgraduate studies. 

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