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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.

    Study help

    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

    Residence Life

    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.

  • Academic support

    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 departmental handbook.

    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 for advice.

    Sources of support

    Departmental 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.

    University support

    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

    All our student webpages contain useful information that we encourage all students to read before starting at Essex. This includes guidance and advice on personal safety, health and wellbeing, money matters and much more.

  • Student groups

    Commuters

    Many people live at home during university and these students will often form friendships with other commuters.

    Mature students

    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

    Our community

    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.

Employability advice

Our Careers Centre

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 1:1 help

Two women discussing some papers

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 1:1 appointments.

Student Services Hub

Lecturer and student

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.

Students' Union

Students' Union club night

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.