Meegan Worcester, who sat on the estranged student panel at Go Higher West Yorkshire’s Good Practice event, reflects on her experience. The session, which encouraged and supported partners to reach out to estranged students, was held on 10 June 2019 at the University of Leeds.
Being a part of the Stand Alone estranged student panel and giving advice to multiple university and college partners of Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY) was such a fulfilling experience.
I was able to provide an insight into how many estranged students struggle with personal finance, accommodation and mental health and wellbeing whilst transitioning from college to higher education. Along with two other estranged students from the University of Leeds, we were also able to engage in focus group sessions with university and college professionals one-to-one, and discuss ways in which they can improve their current strategies to tackle different challenges estranged students currently face within their institutions.
It was lovely to see how these representatives actively listened to what we had to say, as well as asking questions to fully understand our experiences and how estrangement can challenge a student’s ability to succeed in a university setting, compared to other students who have family support throughout their degree.
It felt as though we were voicing the experiences of not just our individual circumstances, but the much larger and complicated stories of other estranged students across the country. To be able to have the opportunity to discuss these challenges in detail with the support of Susan Mueller from the Stand Alone charity made the experience much less stressful.
I encourage other institutional partners who are not associated with GHWY to go to the Stand Alone website and read the online resources about family estrangement. The more we know about the challenges estranged students face in higher education, the more we can improve our strategies to increase each estranged student’s success rate, wellbeing and future.