Helping someone apply for university

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Helping someone apply for university

Supporting someone as they choose a university can be exciting, but it can also feel overwhelming.

On this page we'll help you think about how you can help. Above all, start talking about it as early as you can – it's a big decision, and there is a lot to think about.

Choosing a course

It's important they choose something they like, and can imagine focusing on for 3 to 4 years, or even more on some courses.

You can help by talking to them about what they're good at and what they like doing.

That might be:

  • a school subject,
  • something they did as work experience,
  • an extracurricular activity.

These conversations can help them think about problems they like solving, and what kind of activities and outcomes make them feel good.

Talking about this early on means you can help them consider new possibilities. You'll also have time to look at a wider range of courses.

Go to open days

Lots of people bring a parent, carer or other supporter to an open day.

A prospective student and her family at a Sheffield Hallam open day, talking to an open day guide

There is a lot you can do to make the day easier and more rewarding. For example, you can help with:

  • managing the schedule,
  • finding your way around,
  • taking notes,
  • arranging travel, food and drink,
  • starting conversations with staff or students.

Give them time to explore independently if they want it, and try to explore the local area too.

SHU Progress application support

SHU Progress provides support for applicants whose personal circumstances might mean there are barriers to going to university. Our scheme provides additional support throughout the application process, from the year a student chooses to apply to university through to becoming a university student. 
You can nominate a student for the scheme if you meet the supporter criteria. Learn more about who is eligible for SHU Progress and if you meet the criteria for nominating a student for the scheme.

Do your own research

Sometimes independent research can bring up things that they have missed. Try:

If you can, talk to other people who have supported someone through university, or who went to university themselves. The more perspectives you get, the more ideas you will have.

Financial support

You might well have more experience with finances and loans than the person you are supporting, so your help can be really valuable here.

There are two main options that can help pay for someone's studies:

Depending on your relationship with the applicant, you might need to provide some information when they apply for loans, scholarships or bursaries.

Read the guidance together so that you both know what to expect, and what is needed when.

Explore alternatives to university

Sometimes it helps to compare full-time university study to other options. You may want to help them think about and research alternatives such as:

  • apprenticeships and traineeships
  • school leaver programmes
  • gap years.


Open days

Register for an open day event and find out what Sheffield Hallam has to offer.

View open days

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