Supporting your student: budgeting and independent study skills
An image of Georgia Hargreaves

Georgia Hargreaves works in the Student Recruitment Team and has experience of providing higher education advice and guidance to students in schools and colleges.

Before joining the team, Georgia graduated from Edge Hill University with a BA (Hons) English Literature.

The skills that students require in order to have the best experience both at university and in their future careers, can often seem like an endless list. This article provides information on how to help your student develop two of the most important; budgeting and independent study skills.

Budgeting

From my own personal experience as a student, I found budgeting to be one of the most difficult skills to develop, but one of the skills I needed the most.

For many students, receiving their maintenance loan is the first time that they have had access to a large amount of money, and it is incredibly easy to get swept up in the tide of student life and spend it all within their first month of university.

Maintenance loans are paid in three instalments, and it is down to the student to budget and make sure this money lasts. Making a budget plan can help students do this effectively. A budget plan should include income and outgoings. A typical student’s income might include their maintenance loan, scholarship money, money from parents and supporters, savings or wages from part time jobs.

A group of people are sat around a table and on a couch in one of the accomodation blocks overlooking the lake on the Edge Hill University campus.

When I started university, I imagined my outgoings to include my accommodation, groceries and transport. However, it is easy to forget about the little things such as gym memberships, haircuts and eating out which quickly adds up. It’s important for students to consider all of these things so that they can make a realistic budget plan and feel financially comfortable throughout university.

There are also three important ways for students to save money.

  1. Shop savvy. Many students imagine they will do their shopping in big supermarket chains as this is what they are used to at home. Encouraging students to shop at lower-cost supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl will save them money, and the food is still the same quality.
  2. I would recommend supporting students to open a student bank account as some banks offer great benefits for students, such as discount and travel cards.
  3. For any students that are commuting or travelling by train regularly I would recommend buying a 16-25 National Railcard, this can save up to 1/3 on tickets.

Independent study skills

Another important skill your student will need is being able to study independently. This is a large part of most university courses and requires many key skills including time management and revision.

Multiple people are sat in front of computers on a large desk.

Unfortunately, there is no magic trick that applies to all students when helping them develop their time management and revision skills, as every student is different. For some students revision techniques such as mind maps, YouTube videos or revision cards might be the most beneficial methods for them.

For other students’, time management methods such as lists, or online calendars may work better. Even the time of day can affect the productivity of a student and whilst students are young, it is the perfect time for them to experiment and find out what works best for them.

Although it might feel like the responsibility is mainly on the student to develop this skill, you as a supporter can recognise whether the methods they are using are working, and if not, encourage them to try something else.

Preparing for university

The jump from sixth form/college to university can often be a step that students find challenging, and the key to making this transition easier for them is to be prepared. Most universities will send reading lists in advance of the course starting. The sooner students start this, the better! Being a graduate from an English Literature course, I know that it can be tempting to the read the books that most appeal to you first but encouraging students to read their books in the order they appear on the course will make the students’ workload much more manageable.

It’s always a great idea to check whether your student’s university of choice is offering any additional support over the summer. This is a great time to catch up on skills such as referencing or planning assignments.

Finally, check that your student is checking their emails regularly. Emails are easily missed but can contain important information including timetables and course materials that your student won’t want to miss out on.