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Students & Navigating College With
Little Family Support

Students who are estranged experience unique difficulties while pursuing their education. College applications, obtaining the necessary funds to attend school and managing coursework with little family emotional support are just a few challenges estranged students face.

Challenges Faced by Students in School

Being in college while experiencing estrangement can be a very difficult and trying time in someone’s life. There are several facets of college life to take care of such as one’s finances and studies while also trying to prioritize your own mental health and wellbeing. In the article “Estranged Students”, written by UCAS, it is mentioned that an estimated “3,000 estranged students enter universities and colleges in England only each year”, and many were below the age of 25 as of 2018 (UCAS, 2021). 


The number of incoming students who are estranged in colleges and universities poses a huge impact on their studies and finances due a lack of parental support. Because of this lack of support and/or disapproval from one or more family members, students might often feel unacknowledged and very isolated within their own university and the overall community.

 

It is also possible that students will begin to struggle to pay for tuition and housing, thus becoming a detriment to their studies. For those who are first-generation college students (NASPA and the Suder Foundation define this as a student who is the first in their family to attend college, although this can more broadly apply to those whose parents did not attend a 4-year degree program or who are the first in their family to receive a post-secondary education as well).

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A Glance at Statistics and the School Support System

 

The UCAS article also provides some statistics to illustrate the bigger picture of how common estrangement is among students. The article found that students were “less likely to achieve a first or 2:1 than their non-estranged peers (13 percentage points lower in 2018-19), and more likely to drop out (their continuation rate was 8.2 percentage points lower in 2017-18)” (UCAS, 2021). These large numerical discrepancies reflect how estrangement can and often does affect a person’s college experience (and possibly their future career). The stress of estrangement can begin to take mental, physical, and emotional tolls on students, especially due to the lack of support from loved ones during this transitional time.

However, there are many universities that provide support programs for estranged students. While these programs may be great resources, many students have also expressed hesitancy about participating in the programs for a multitude of reasons. In the article “Who are Estranged Students?”, it is stated that many students (28%) were not comfortable with reaching out for support from their institution’s programs (Stand Alone, n.d.). Estrangement can come with many emotions such as embarrassment and shame, so this is a completely understandable reaction. However, these institutional programs are there to provide you support and understanding, so if you have the opportunity to attend an estrangement program, it could be immensely helpful to utilize the resources offered.

Seeking Help While in College

 

Experiencing estrangement during college can be seriously detrimental to one’s mental health, and the added stress of studies and finances can seriously impact a student’s success in their field of study or career. That is why, if you have estrangement resources available to you through your school or some other avenue, accessing that support can be extremely helpful. Mental health resources for estrangement are there to provide you a listening ear and to help manage the damaging toll that estrangement can take. You are not at fault for your estrangement situation, and you deserve the mental health care that you need in order to find success in your studies and fulfillment in your life.

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