Information for Parents & Guardians of First Year Students
As the Parent or Guardian of an incoming First Year, we hope and trust that this new ‘student’ will find university life to be inspiring and fulfilling over the coming years! It’s a truly exciting journey and one that is full of new opportunities and openings.
This year is, undoubtedly, different to any other one, but please remember that our full-time programmes are full-time and students will be expected to engage with the academic material at home to the same extent as they would have if they were on-campus full time.
A key characteristic of studying at DCU, which is consistently highlighted by our students and graduates, is the ease with which students can access academic and student support staff, should they require assistance or guidance with their studies. Students are very much encouraged to make contact with staff, seek assistance early, and familiarize themselves with the many developmental opportunities available to them, which will help them in this transition from second to third level education. Members of staff are highly dedicated and committed individuals, who will ensure that students are given every opportunity to excel during their time at DCU. Encourage the student to reach out and explore what DCU has to offer.
The role of a parent or guardian undoubtedly changes as a student enters university, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t continue to need your support and encouragement. You will need to learn to support ‘from afar’ as students need to negotiate this new learning environment alone and develop a further level of maturity in order to take control of their studies – but there are plenty of opportunities to help them find their feet. Familiarise yourself with the structures and supports in the University, so that you are equipped to point them in the right direction if the need arises.
Finance at University
These years can be an expensive time for families and need to be carefully planned. Here, you will find information on the typical cost of a year at university and financial support available for students. Most students will work between 10 and 15 hours per week but the capacity of the student to work will depend on the programme they are taking and the students themselves.
Studying at Home
Students will need a quiet study space and a suitable device to be able to engage fully with the academic materials and the online lectures and activities. The library is offering limited study spaces, which can be booked in advance but this won't replace the need for a dedicated space at home where they can concentrate and read through the materials and complete assignments.
In Need of Support
The University offers a large range of supports for students who may need academic, financial, medical or emotional support. Encourage the student to seek help early before the issue becomes too challenging for them.
Students need to develop various skills to help them excel in their academic studies, balance life, work and social activities. Throughout the year, students are offered online support, workshops, one-to-one meetings, so that they are well prepared for their years in university. Encourage the student to keep an eye on these webpages and attend relevant events. If they learn the skills in First Year, it will help them throughout their degree.
Discover DCU is an online series of courses which students have access to once they accept their offer of a place in the University. Access details will be provided when they receive their offer. Encourage the student to take these courses and familiarise themselves with their new environment. It will give them a great head start!
Specialised supports (and orientation) are in place for students with learning, mental health or physical disabilities, students on the spectrum and mature students. Students should make contact with these Offices to see how they can support them through their student journey – small things can make a big difference!
Key Milestones in First Year
Although many students make the transition to university life with ease, it may be worthwhile taking note of some of the key milestones in First Year, which will give an indication of how your son / daughter is progressing:
- 1. Choice of Programme:
It is not unusual for a student to find that, despite having received his/her first choice of programme, the programme does not match his/her expectations. This will usually become clear very early on and it is crucial that action is taken immediately, as there may be ways of transferring internally or, if this is not an option, at least keeping the door open for a fresh start the following September without incurring a very substantial financial penalty. A key date to remember is October 29th 2021. This is the date by which students must have submitted relevant documentation, should they be seeking a deferral or withdrawal from the University. After this date, they will be liable for fees (between €4,000 and €12,000 for the year), should they return to university in September 2022 or thereafter.
- 2. Integration / Making Friends:
The second most frequently cited factor for a student not successfully completing his/her first year in university is simply not making friends and integrating into university life. Just imagine what it is like to be walking around a campus with approximately 16,000 other students – and feeling you don’t know anybody! Don’t underestimate the importance of the student getting to know a few people and taking part in some of the Club and Society life, which is very vibrant at DCU. It is possible to balance studies and social activities – and crucial to get this balance right from the outset.
- 3. Semester One Examination Results:
Many programmes offer continuous assessment through the semester, which will help the student assess how s/he is coping with the subject area. Not all modules (courses) are suitable for continuous assessment, however, and will consist of an end of Semester examination only. Semester One results are the first official indication of how students are performing academically. It is not unusual for First Year students to fail an examination or assessment – it is crucial, however, that they speak to their lecturers to get feedback on their performance. Students should contact their lecturers by email to make an appointment to meet and discuss their examination papers and/or assignments as soon as the results are published and during the ‘consultation days’.
January 31st 2022 is another key date to be aware of – if a student does not wish to continue with a programme, the student must de-register by this date in order to avail of ‘half free fees’ should they return to third level education in the future.
Withdrawing from / Deferring First Year
If a student is unable to continue with First Year for health reasons or because the student is unhappy about the programme, please make contact with a Student Advisor who will advise them on options and financial consequnces.
If students mail firstname.lastname@example.org, they will be assisted with any query – academic, personal or financial.
We hope that this information will help you support the new First Year student during their initial period at university. It is important that both you and the student understands that the University is bound by confidentiality and, under the Third Party Policy, is unable to discuss any issue related to a student with anyone except the student, unless expressly requested by the student.
If a potential 'future student' wishes to avail of a campus tour, please email the Student Recruitment Office (www.dcu.ie/studentrecruitment) at: email@example.com. You'll also find useful information about Open Days and other upcoming events on these webpages!