A gap year can be filled with excitement and plenty of freedom. Maybe your teen has been exploring the world, working interstate or abroad, or brushing up on their skills through an internship or volunteering. After a year spent doing anything and everything but study, the transition to life at university or college might be a little daunting to your child, but there’s no need to worry if they’re prepared. This big transitional point in life doesn’t have to be a rocky one. Instead, this can be another enjoyable and exciting experience to add to their memory bank.
As a parent, you’ll want to ensure that this big step in their life goes as smoothly as possible. Here are our top tips to help them ease out of the gap year and into student life.
Don’t just wing it
Even if their responsibilities were heightened with part-time or full-time work, your child has likely enjoyed the freedoms of being independent during their gap year. This independence extends to uni life too, but they’ll need to prepare take more considerations to ensure they stay on top of work, study, personal responsibilities, social life, good health and more. The days of winging it are over – it's time to say hello to preparing and planning.
One way to get ahead before uni is to figure out a few productivity systems. Your child might have had a taste of this in school, but university and college are far more self-directed and will require them to stay on top of assessments, exams, meetings, classes and more without being prompted. They might like to keep it simple with a diary or weekly planner to jot down classes, assignment due dates, study days and extra notes at any moment. If they’re always on their laptop or phone, perhaps digital systems would make more sense – most smartphones come with an inbuilt notes section and a calendar. Knowing their favourite way to capture notes, synthesise info, and track events, meetings and responsibilities will serve them well throughout their time at uni and as they head into the workplace. Get them started with this habit as soon as you can!
Find new ways to make friends
The high school environment is very conducive to making friends – your child might still count kids they met as early as Grade 1 amongst their nearest and dearest. While these people are bound to still be in their lives as they begin tertiary study, university is a great opportunity to forge some new connections, too.
Of course, university and college aren’t as structured as high school, so they might need to branch out a little. They’ll meet people in their classes, but as a parent, try to encourage them to find community in other ways. Almost every university has clubs and societies which are a great backdrop for meeting like-minded people that share their similar interests. There are also uni social events, volunteering, on-campus work, and more to consider, each of which provide a fun, low-pressure way to make friends.
Get connected early
One practical tip for every future university or college student is to set up their technology ahead of time. Their uni email account and student portal will be go-to resources, especially as they navigate the first couple of months of study. Suggest they take some time to get connected with the right online tools in the weeks before class starts. It’s likely they’ll already have a tonne of emails sitting in their student account, about class timetables, required readings, prescribed textbooks, remote learning platforms… the list goes on. Prompt them to sort through these and get up to speed to feel comfortable ahead of their first day of class. This is a lot less stressful than leaving everything until the last minute.
There are also a number of other ways to stay connected with a university they might like to explore. For instance, Bond students are encouraged to follow our accounts on social media, and to join our commencing cohort groups to make new friends and stay up to date with events and what’s happening at uni, both on and off campus.
Seek out support
Transitioning from a gap year to full-time study is a big step, and it’ll mark quite a lot of change in your child’s life, which can sometimes be jarring or unnerving. Starting university shouldn’t be an isolating experience, so it’s important that they know support is always available. Most universities prioritise student support services, and have a range of offerings for all students whether they’re attending class on campus or logging on remotely. Help your child to do their research ahead of time and understand the logistics of accessing and receiving support should they need it.
Here at Bond, providing support is a crucial component of our commitment to an exceptional student experience. Reach out to the Academic Skills Centre for help with assignments, referencing or exams, and get in contact with the Career Development Centre if you’re interested in internships or work experience. We also offer free, confidential counselling for all students on campus, and a range of support services designed to guide and assist our international, LGBTIQ, Indigenous and disabled students.
Starting university after a gap year is exciting, and with the right preparation, can be a relatively smooth transition. Before you know it, your teen will be in the swing of things and university will become just another chapter of life. Encourage them to enjoy this time as much as possible and start their tertiary studies off on the right foot.
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