Friday, 29 November 2013

So while daughter number two nears the end of her very first term at university, the cycle of applications, interviews and offers begins all over again for thousands more students.

At College the number of applicants is well up on this time last year, but it’s hard to know at this stage if this is students being organised earlier or indeed whether we will see a larger percentage of the year group applying.  Whatever the reason, it’s incredibly hard work at this stage of the year, checking every application and then checking every reference to ensure it is accurate before finally pushing the button.  There are only so many hours in the day, but with Christmas looming we’re keen to get the bulk sent by then if we possibly can.

Last Sunday we had a One More Step meeting locally and were really encouraged.  With a mixture of sons/daughters already at university and in the middle of applying, it was great to be able to talk informally about how they are all getting on, workloads, 2nd year accommodation, how Student Finance works (don’t we all wish we knew the answer to that one!), when offers might come etc etc.  And then we spent some time praying for our students, and also for their CUs, and for the student workers at their Churches.

So let’s continue to remember our students in prayer:  for happy Christmas celebrations at university, for everyone getting along together over the festive period at home, for those applying at the moment for university and those facing the prospect of selective interviews.
And here’s a challenging Bible verse as we re-configure as families over Christmas:  Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”  Ephesians 4:2

As we enter this period of Advent, waiting for Christ to come, I for one can’t wait for the Advent of the daughters too!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Half Term

Half Term – a breather for us and a chance to go and see our younger daughter at university.  We had fortunately already decided to go on the Tuesday, so thereby avoided the storm on the Monday.  Definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be towing a caravan in that wind!

For daughter, self catering, it was a welcome opportunity to be fed each day and to have transport to Asda to stock up.  As it turned out, it also meant being able to have hot showers!  Heating in her house (campus-based university accommodation) has been erratic, but all of a sudden there was no hot water either.  In fact the 12 of them in the house were without hot water for a whole week.   Since we returned the heating has again been erratic (just as the temperatures have plummeted) and then last night I got a text to say they suspected a gas leak and that they were awaiting someone to come and fix it.  Thus ensued a few more texts along the lines of “don’t cook, don’t switch the light on/off, open a window…” before gas repair man arrived and fixed the leak.

Our elder daughter had none of this sort of excitement in her first year – she was always sitting there in a T shirt whenever we skyped.  Is our younger daughter unlucky with her accommodation?  Have you come across these sort of ongoing difficulties?

Anyway, we had a lovely few days and we reckon she is doing really well, academically, socially and looking after herself.  It’s a big thing for any of them, really, isn’t it?  She’s still doing the rounds of churches, but had enjoyed the recent CU weekend away.

And so back to college, where we’re up to our eyes in this year’s university applications.  The cycle continues…

 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!          2 Cor 5:17

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

New Report

Interesting article in the Church Times last week ‘What really happens at university?’  Dr Mathew Guest, Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religion at Durham University, with colleagues, has undertaken a survey of more than 4,000 undergraduates and has now published his findings.  His statistics reveal that more than half of all students who call themselves Christians stay away from church while they are at university.  However, of those who do attend church, the biggest proportions go to independent evangelical and to Anglican churches.  He also asserts that CU members are the most likely among the student body to engage in volunteer work in the community.

‘Christianity and the University Experience: Understanding student faith’ by Mathew Guest, Kristin Aune, Sonya Sharma and Rob Warner.  Published by Bloomsbury £21.99

Media of Christianity and the University Experience

Monday, 16 September 2013

And then there were two!

So… elder daughter gone off to uni in one direction and younger one duly taken with all her stuff in another direction!

Move in day was ok.  The room is ok – not wonderful – and the kitchen is poky with no table for eating.  But it was at least all clean and in working order.  It’s funny isn’t it – you spend all that time touring round all the accommodation on open day and then, despite putting down your preferences, you end up with something completely different.  Oh well, perhaps there’s a reason as yet unknown.  However, the drinking games and crashing around in the early hours meant that she didn’t exactly have the best night’s sleep ever on Sat night. 

However, on the positive side, she met some nice people at the service on campus on Sun morning and this in turn led to several of them taking the bus into town for a church service in the evening.  Then today a CU Freshers event also meant meeting more nice folk, so I’m really happy that she’s meeting people on a similar wavelength to her.

It’s all very odd at home – just the two of us.

And back at work today the current Year 12 are waking up to the fact that they need to think about university applications.

So where are you up to?  Are you about to take son/daughter off to university for the first time?  Are they thinking about an application and booking last-minute open days?

The Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.      Isaiah 52:12

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Three days to go...

Well since my last post things have moved apace.  Online university registration has happened, payment set up for the accommodation, student bank account sorted, and various tickets for Freshers’ events purchased.  We’ve just been looking together at the Freshers’ events – pleased to see there’s a CU picnic and an introduction to the local churches planned, alongside various other events and subject introductions. 

An ever-growing multitude of bags, boxes and sundry receptacles is filling the spare room, her room and now the living room.  Will it all fit in the car?  Will it all fit into an unknown-sized room on campus?

And now we’re down to the last few days at home.  It’s come round so fast.  Fond farewells taking place with sundry friends, most of whom are also off to uni.

Where are you up to with all of this?  Would love to hear your thoughts as the Big Day approaches…

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.             Romans 15:13

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Linking up with the CU and local church

Today my daughter received in the post a great little book from UCCF (The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship) called ‘Uncover – Starting Uni edition’.  It’s a copy of Luke’s Gospel, but with extra notes that would be useful for new students.  She had signed up online at  Through this site new students can be linked up with a Christian Union at their university.  You can also find links to the relevant CU facebook page – well worth a look for information on events they’re putting on in Freshers’ Week.

Some CUs operate a ‘buddy’ scheme, whereby a current student will be assigned to the Fresher and can meet up with them and generally be a friendly face in the first few days and weeks.  The CU facebook page or website will probably be the best way of finding out about this.

I would suggest that it’s definitely worth your son/daughter finding out now what CU events are happening in Freshers’ Week.  They will also be receiving information from their course around now and from the Student Union, so they can start planning what events they can attend when in Freshers’ Week. 

Similarly, it’s a good idea to start a bit of research now on churches in the area.  The UCCF website has a helpful little film on finding a church.  Another useful site is Fusion  This site has a really helpful search tool, which lists local churches and gives a bit of information about each one.  The university CU may well organise a ‘Church crawl’ or ‘Church search’ in the first few weeks to help new students find a church that suits them. 

As a parent you can help with the research, suggest the websites etc, but in the end your son/daughter will need to have the motivation themselves to actually go along to a CU Freshers’ Event/Church event once they get to university.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."                    Deut 31:8

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Well, how was Results Day for you?

My daughter’s A Level results were online at 7am.  She did very well – very proud of her – but did drop one grade (only by 2 UMS!!), so we then had a nail-biting half hour wait until UCAS Track came up at 7.30am.  The university confirmed her place despite the dropped grade, so major relief all round!!  I could then go off to work to deal with other students whose situations weren’t so happy.

There seem to have been a lot more places available through Clearing this year, even at top universities, but the Student Number Controls have meant that some students just missed out on their place despite getting a points-equivalent or more (I saw one student on Thurs who’d got A* A* C, but the university wouldn’t accept him because he missed getting the B for his Maths).

If your son/daughter is still looking for a university place see for places available and see my previous blog for the Helpline details.

Back home, my daughter quickly received her accommodation offer by email.  Unfortunately none of the options she’d put down on her application, but it would seem that swaps are possible a couple of weeks into term if it really doesn’t work out.  There was a 7 day reply window (another argument for not being away on holiday with no internet access!).

A little later she heard from her friend (currently at Soul Survivor) that she’d also got her place confirmed at the same uni, so that’s really lovely.

I’m thinking that enrolment information will also come fairly soon.  Certainly my older daughter’s enrolment was all done online (not like our day – I remember queuing to do this on campus in the first few days).
The other thing to do this week, I think, is to get the student bank account set up.  Banks need proof of the confirmed university place, but I’m thinking we should check which banks are on campus as that might be an advantage.  If you’re also at this stage, check the deals online (eg free railcards etc), but for the best up to date advice go to

So in celebration of the confirmed university place, yesterday we had a jolly day out at Ikea and got kitchen stuff, bedding a good number of other things that weren’t actually on the list (as you do!), though it has to be said, it wasn’t all for her…

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.    Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Results Day Advice

I’ll be a bit busy tomorrow, whatever the results in our household, as I will be in College supporting students who are disappointed by their results and who need help and advice.

So…, this is my advice if you’re in the same boat and results aren’t quite as expected:

·         Don’t panic!
·         Make sure your son/daughter has checked Track on UCAS, which should be live from 7am tomorrow.  The university may still have confirmed the place even if a grade has been dropped.  If no decision has been posted yet it could mean the university is still considering.  If this is the case try phoning them to see if they are still likely to offer a place.
·         Your son/daughter will need to do the phoning and will need their applicant number handy.  Your moral support may or may not be welcome at this point!
·         If the first choice is unsuccessful, do they meet the grades for the insurance choice?  Yes?  Great – assuming they’re still happy to go there.  No?  Then they’re eligible for Clearing.
·         The procedure for Clearing is clearly explained on the UCAS website
·         Seek advice from school/college staff who should be available on results day.  They will also be able to advise on script recalls/remarks and resits. UCAS also have a helpline – see
·         Initially your son/daughter may be too distraught to do anything.  Advise against any hasty decisions.
·         Courses available in Clearing should be considered as carefully as the original choices.  Try to visit if you can before making a final decision.  Bear in mind that halls of residence may not have spaces left.
·         Places available in Clearing may be slightly different day to day, so keep looking.
·         Rather than rushing into a hasty decision, how would your son/daughter view a gap year, applying again in a couple of months’ time?

Let’s pray for peace of mind and a good night’s sleep for all concerned tonight!

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.                        Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, 8 August 2013

The Waiting Game

Since my first post we’ve had a few days away – just the two of us.  The shape of things to come (not the going away bit, unfortunately, but the being just a couple.  I’m really really not looking forward to no children at home).

So… a week to go till results day.  Hoping for the best, but trying to prepare mentally in case the required grades do not materialise.  The course still seems to be recruiting (if the new-style UCAS Course Search is to be believed), so I’m taking this as a good sign.  Maybe they’ll be more prepared to drop a grade if necessary…

Preparations in the form of collecting ‘stuff’ continue.  I’d forgotten that my Mum had acquired a tray of cutlery at a fete earlier in the year, and we bought a clothes airer while we were away.  Older daughter has unearthed the checklist she had a couple of years ago, so that’s helpful.

While they’ve been on their own this week, the two of them have taken the opportunity to practise menu-planning, food shopping and cooking, using recipes from the ‘Nosh for Students’ cookbook.  (see  This book comes recommended by elder daughter, particularly as there is no need for any weighing – all you need is a mug to measure out ingredients.

Do you have any views on ‘stuff’ that is/isn’t essential?
Or a good, basic recipe book to recommend?

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Introducing One More Step

Two years ago, with our elder daughter about to go off to university for the first time, my husband and I had the idea of setting up a support network locally for Christian parents in a similar situation.  As a close family we had some mixed feelings about the forthcoming transition – surely other parents must be feeling similarly?  With the aim of meeting up a couple of times a term to discuss topics of mutual concern, to offer information and encouragement and to pray for our students, we publicised the group among the local churches in our area.  And so the One More Step network was born. 

For the last two years there have been opportunities to meet up, and we have had great conversations with those who have come along.  We’ve also had great conversations with others who haven’t been able to come along to the meetings, and as finding the right day and time for everyone has proved challenging, we’ve now decided to widen it out by means of a blog, so that this can morph into a supportive online community.

We took the One More Step title for the group from the Sydney Carter song that we remember from our younger days – it may now sound a bit cheesy, but it sums up God’s journeying with us every step of the way:  “and it’s from the old I travel to the new, keep me travelling along with you”.  As parents we have been travelling with our children for the last 18+ years, and now all of a sudden it’s time for them to travel “from the old things to the new”.  God travels along with our offspring, and indeed is already travelling ahead of them too.  And for those of us still at home – well God will be with us too, helping us to readjust, to cope with the changed family dynamics, and to reconnect with our offspring as and when we are able.

My intention is to put up regular posts focussing on different topics that we might face as parents of students either starting or returning to university or indeed applying for university.  It would be great to start discussions on how we support our students, thereby supporting each other at this time of transition.

Over the next few weeks our attention will be particularly on our younger daughter, currently awaiting her A Level results.  Maybe your son or daughter is awaiting exam results.  What are your feelings in this waiting period?