Information for families
What makes Essex special
You've helped your new Essex student - your son, daughter, brother, sister, friend, carer or guardian - make
a great decision by coming to study at Essex. They'll be part of Essex for life, with all the associated benefits.
We look out for each other here; our extensive networks of student support services are award-winning and renowned.
We're a genuinely global community that lives, works, and plays together.
Lifelong friendships start here
Essex students develop a sense of belonging and form lifelong friendships. When it comes to 'the student experience'
Essex students consistently rate us highly, we have one
of the highest numbers of clubs and societies
per student in the UK, and our campuses are friendly places. We hope this information gives you a good overview about what
a new student needs to do within the first few weeks of joining us, and the part you can play as someone who cares about them.
Your role and our relationship
Your valuable support
We value your vital supporting role as a family member of a new Essex student, and welcome you too
as a member of our university's community. Starting university is an exciting time for any new student, but it can also
be a time of uncertainty; homesickness, making friends and adjusting to a degree-level course can all raise concerns
for new students. If you're the family or friend of a new student, it can be a challenging experience for you too!
A big step
University is very different from school; your new Essex student's an adult now, responsible for their own
finances, academic attendance and performance, diet, social life, sleeping habits and everything
else that involves being a student. For parents, because our relationship, as a university, is with the student,
you'll find that support advisors, personal tutors, lecturers, and accommodation staff won't be in a position to
speak to you about how your son or daughter is doing, due to our duties and responsibilities under the Data Protection Act.
Helping to build resilience
However, that doesn't mean we can't listen to you, and suggest ways you could lend your support to help your new Essex student build resilience.
A good place for you to start is by getting familiar with the
really broad range of support services we offer to students, alongside those offered independently by
our Students' Union. Once you do so, you'll know where to guide your new Essex student,
if they need any extra help or advice.
Over vacations it is easy for students to get distracted and forget about their studies.
But students will often have coursework or exams due soon after the start of term. While
it is the responsibility of the student to deal with their own studies, you can consider
how the home is encouraging them to do some coursework and revision. Students often say that
a useful study technique is chatting through what they’ve learnt with a family member. It doesn’t
matter if they haven’t learnt the subject, because by chatting it through, they realise what
they have learnt and what they need to revise. Chatting about what you’re learning can build
subject knowledge, confidence and increase motivation to study. You might even be interested
to read some of their work!
Preparing for a new life
Welcome week and orientation
Throughout Welcome Week, across our three campuses at Colchester, Southend and Loughton,
all new students are encouraged to get here in good time, on their allocated arrivals day,
and make the most out of what's on offer to help them get settled in to their new home.
That includes making new friends, meeting fellow students and lecturers, finding their way around,
and of course doing the essential things like registering onto their course, registering with a doctor,
and registering with the police and ensuring necessary visa requirements are in place, for some international students.
Department events and social life
Events take place day and night during the week, most of which feature in information included in the Welcome
pack we send out to all new students during August or September. We encourage all students to attend welcome talks
and departmental welcome events. Evening entertainment includes meet-and-greet socials, arts, theatre and comedy shows,
plus a wide social calendar of events organised by our Students' Union - including Freshers' Fair,
where students can join pretty much any club or society they can think of.
Exploring the campus and beyond
We also encourage new students to explore the Colchester, Southend or Loughton area surrounding their campus, and take a campus and library tour. They may also want
to take part in the free sports sessions on offer, or join the Evolve gym at Colchester. New students can
familiarise themselves with the large campus at Colchester by using the Find-Your-Way map and smartphone app; it's pretty useful to know
in advance of lectures and seminars where to go! Full information about places, services and facilities on campus
features in the campus guide booklet that's also included in the welcome pack.
Support in our student accommodation
We have a network of support on-hand to help all new students get settled in, and make new friends.
This includes our Residence Life team, whose
resident assistants (RAs) are students living in University-provided accommodation. They're a welcoming face
from day one, and their know-how and experience helps students settle in.
Other support on-campus
Nightline, staffed by student volunteers,
offers a friendly listening ear at night, plus our professional advice teams within your
Student Services Hub and the
Students' Union are here at every turn. Every student also has access to
a personal tutor, and our peer mentoring scheme is a great opportunity to tap-into the knowledge and experience of a fellow student.
Dealing with a disappointing grade
From time to time your family member may do less well in a piece of coursework or exam than
they had hoped or expected. Although they may be disappointed it is important to remind them
that this is just one mark which can be easily recovered. Also, school and college grades are
often higher than at university, so what might appear to be a low mark may actually be a good
mark. You can find more information on our marking schemes in your family member's
There are many ways for students to find out what is deemed to be a good mark and how they
can improve. They can:
- look at feedback to see what they did well and what they could do better next time
- map the comments against the marking criteria
If they don’t know what they did well or how to improve, they can contact their lecturer,
their personal tutor or the Talent Development Centre
Sources of support
Your family member can get a lot of support from their department:
- students can discuss specific course issues with their lecturers
- students are also assigned a Personal Tutor
who is one of the lecturers in their department and with whom they discuss any academic or personal
issues they may have
- all students are also assigned a Peer Mentor –
a second or third year student who is on hand to give practical information and advice to help first
years settle into university life
- all departments also have a wide range of administrative staff who are available to talk with students
If you’d like to find out more about your family member’s course, department and support services, take a
look at their departmental handbook.
Outside of the department, Essex builds the academic skills of students through the
Talent Development Centre. Covering everything from maths,
reading and writing, to research skills, it has a range of support to help your family member fulfil their
potential. We also provide a wide range of courses to help students build
their IT skills.
Doubts about a course
Many students feel uncertain about continuing on their course. This can be for a range of reasons.
Most students with doubts do continue. If your family member has doubts during their course you might find
it helpful to read the information available for them
and encourage them to do the same, including
contacting a staff member so that they can discuss their options. The guidance includes who they can
contact depending on their circumstances so that they can make an informed decision.
Security, safety and other issues
Many people live at home during university and these students will often form friendships with other
It is not uncommon for mature students to find it difficult
at first to juggle other commitments with their university life. They are opportunities for them to contact others
in similar situations
The Essex community is diverse, and there many opportunities for students to meet others in similar
or different circumstances and experiences and to access relevant support.
Our Employability and Careers Centre helps you develop the skills for a successful career. Our friendly staff and excellent resources help you to make
informed career choices and to enter your chosen field.
Get one-to-one help
Advisers in our Talent Development Centre can offer sessions to develop your writing, referencing, time management, study skills as well as English Language. You can sign up to
arrange one-to-one appointments.
Student Services Hub
Our team of advisers are based within your Student Services Hub and can provide information, advice and guidance on a range of topics from accommodation and funding to exam stress and
wellbeing. Drop us a line or pay us a visit.
Our Students' Union (SU) is one of the most active in the country and is run by students,
for students. Our SU will be there to offer you support, plus the opportunity to join numerous clubs and societies
and to enjoy lots of events and nights out.