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Sending children off to university is a big deal for any parent. As soon as the ‘Thank God I have the house/car/fridge to myself’ mentality has worn off, the ‘Why is my little darling so far away?’ line of thought steps in. If the little darling in question has decided that the best place to fly from the parental nest is Europe, America, Asia or even Australasia, then all the normal fears, worries, and paranoia are multiplied by a factor of ten.

Even if parents have experienced the college system first hand, the thought of oceans dividing them from emergency laundry help can cause a fair amount of hysteria.

The trick is for you to learn how to handle these fears as they arise...

Carry on communicating

TelephoneProbably the first rule of thumb for allaying the anxious parent’s fears is to invest in a good international dialling deal or download one of the free online video calling apps (Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp). Then make sure you remember to call home on a semi-regular basis.

Keeping mum - or not

Rest assured that American universities are much better than their English equivalents at managing parents. From the flow of information that will start to stream in before freshman year, to organised weekends specifically designed to allow the parents to actually see what their precious child is getting up to, the college administration really tries to make families feel involved. In so doing, they take much of the pressure off the student. 

You are not alone

You should also remember that LA is about the same distance from the East Coast as London is from New York, and that many of your American classmates will endure similar homesickness and anxious parents.

In fact, when your parents are driving you round the bend, you'll probably find the same is true for those of your friends whose parents live just down the road.  

In many ways, having family members a good 3,000 miles away can be beneficial for all concerned (take note of the following points and use them to allay maternal fears). Family relationships are often improved by distance, and your siblings will love having a built-in American shopper to bring home Levi jeans and Reese’s peanut butter cups.

You, meanwhile, will find the odd visitor from home is exceedingly welcome. After all, who else can you prevail upon to smuggle in such delicacies as Marmite or McVitties?

Furthermore, as an ‘American orphan’, you have the chance to impose yourself on your roommates’ families. This makes travel much more convenient (and fun), and allows you explore the States from a local's-eye-view by capitalising on their pity for your abandoned status.

Questions, questions

One of the things most parents worry about when their child flies across the seas is their social life. Will all their friends be American? Will they lose touch with their English peers and prefer to spend their holidays in far-flung corners of the States? 

In fact, for most English students, the opposite will prove true. American students love to travel, and little ole Europe is number one of their list of destinations. Brits studying in the States are likely to find themselves operating a backpacking hostel at home during the holidays - Americans love England, and you will never have any shortage of visitors.

New friends are silver - old ones are gold

Nor, despite your family’s anxiety, should you have any problems maintaining your English friendships. Your school contemporaries may well drift apart as they go to different universities and make new friends, but you should (with minimal effort) be able to become the link between them all.

The fact that you will not be making hundreds of new friends in the UK means you are forced to make that little bit more of an effort with the old ones, and normally it pays off.

Now that phone calls are so cheap and social networking is ubiquitous, it's easy to stay in contact with all your loved ones, regardless of which side of the Atlantic you happen to be on. With a little bit of luck, you should be able to emerge from your undergraduate years with solid friendship groups on both sides. Who knows, they may even – shock horror – get to know and like each other!

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    Most universities will ask you for at least one reference, written by a careers advisor, headteacher, housemaster, etc. This reference is similar to UCAS, although it should not focus on a particular course, but rather suitability in general for higher education. It is ‘all about’ you and should address academic performance, extra-curricular activities and personal qualities.

  • Deadlines & early decision

    You must meet your deadlines! US universities will not accept late applications unless they have ‘rolling admissions’, meaning they accept students on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Financial statement

    Most universities will require you to complete a financial statement. Do this carefully as it will be used to determine your eligibility for financial assistance.

  • Interviews

    Although interviews are rarely mandatory for admission into any American university, they are often recommended and are an excellent way of finding out about the place in which you are planning to spend the next four years. Interviews for international students can function in two ways...

  • Help!

    I need help: find a University Consultant!, How can a consultant help me?, About our university consultants, This just in! UU in the news and Student uni fairs: don't miss...


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