University life can be daunting and it's sometimes easy to forget for some teens it will be the first time away from home and their support network of family and friends.

That's why an academic and former BBC World News editor has compiled a useful check-list for teachers, parents and teens who are considering their next step now exams are finally over.

Dr Lisette Johnston, Head of School for the BA in Media, Content and Film Production at Metfilm School (also called ScreenSpace), is offering the advice following concerns students are often under-prepared for university life which may lead to mental health issues.

Her tips include highlighting to teens the support services available at many universities and giving them advice on keeping on top of finances which could easily spiral out of control.

Lisette Johnston
Lisette Johnston

Teachers and parents

Where possible speak with students about their expectations for university. For some people it is a logical step, for others it may seem like a daunting jump.

As well as going to see their universities, and making informed decisions about courses, it's important to highlight to these young people that university is not like school. There is absolutely support available, but there will be an element of independent learning.

Students may go from living at home and getting pocket money to suddenly having thousands in their bank accounts. Teaching students some financial acumen is sensible. Martin Lewis has long advocated financial skills being taught in schools, and learning basic things like what an overdraft it, how to budget for the full year and what you can realistically afford to buy will help students in the long term.

Help them understand what the course involves, going beyond the prospectus. Will they be in a small cohort or lectures of 300 people? What makes this the right course for them.

At the end of the day, these people are young adults who have to make their own decisions. Let them and don't spoonfeed them, but advise that the door remains open and you are there to support them on this journey.

Failure can be good though. In the first year I ran out of money, maxed a credit card and my student overdraft, mainly due to silly spending. Upshot I had to get a job over the summer and term time. Don't always bail someone out. this taught me an important life lesson and it's a much better thing long term than bailing them out time after time.


This is one reason we cap our practical classes at 24 as we believe this helps students learn in a close knit environment. So do ask if you have questions or concerns about how you are doing on a course. That might be to do coursework or just feeling anxious about being away from home or something else.

We all know it's a big step coming to university, and it's our job as educators to make it worthwhile and help you on your journey.

How much does it cost to get to your classes if you don't live on campus? Do you really need that overdraft? Knowing where your money is going will help alleviate stress later on.

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Don't put your head in the sand. Whether it's before you start university or while you are there, there will always be someone who can support and advise you - from your teachers at school, to student support services and your personal tutor.

These factors will influence how you spend your time over the next two or three years. It's a big commitment, and you don;t need to have all the answers, but at least know studying for a degree is definitely something you want to do.