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Lakshmi Sangaranarayanan, Director, Student Residence

By Lakshmi Sangaranarayanan, Director, Student Residence


At UBC, we’re big believers in the benefits of living in residence. Here are ten essential tips to get the most out of your time as a UBC student.

1. Live in residence

Residence facilities, staff, programs and services make it easy for you to:

  • meet new people
  • feel part of UBC
  • live in a study-oriented atmosphere
  • find help for academic and personal challenges
  • try new activities
  • have tons of fun
  • get shopping, cooking and cleaning done

 2. Attend all your classes

It’s the best way to stay on your academic game. Education costs money and takes time, so make every bit count.

3. Talk to your profs

Ask questions in class, after class and during office hours. Professors remember the students who talk to them and show interest in learning.

4. Consider a part-time job

But make sure you can still study and have time for friends. Limit work hours to 10–12 per week. For a short commute and to meet fellow students, consider a job on campus—there are plenty. Stop by the UBC Career Centre for more information.

5. Advocate for yourself

If you need something, ask for it. Start by asking the person right next to you. If they can’t help, seek suggestions about who can. And if you have a legitimate complaint (about, say, your living situation or a grade you received), propose a solution.

6. Friendships to last a lifetime.

This is a time to build new, lasting friendships. You’ll need your friends during the ups and downs of your year. You can also bring people together by introducing new friends to one another. But remember to keep old friendships strong, near or far.

7. It’s OK to just be roommates—not fast friends

You might not become forever friends with your roommate(s), but you do need to find a way to live together respectfully. Make a contract with your roommate(s) that outlines housekeeping standards, schedules and costs; using and borrowing each other’s things; and a policy on guests. If you live in residence, ask your Residence Advisor for the roommate agreement that can help you and your roommate(s) discuss your expectations.

8. Do something

Get involved in a club, group, association, team or volunteer work. You’ll meet new friends and feel part of UBC.  You’ll also feel good knowing that you’re helping others, are part of a bigger purpose, and possibly learning professional skills. Here are a few ideas:

• Attend Clubs Fair in September.

• See UBC Recreation to browse activities and intramural sports.

• Search for volunteer opportunities.

9. Use campus resources

Learning and social resources are at your fingertips. Student Services is a one-stop-shop for information.

10. Create a schedule and follow it

Now that you’re at university, you’re the one who decides how to use your time. Schedule time to study, work, socialize. Don’t forget “me time.” It’s important to find a balance between all these important elements that make up your life.

Distance parenting

Mother And Daughter Meeting With Male Teacher

Can you call? Can you see their grades? What’s a parent to do?

You’ve dropped off your student at their new UBC residence building or waved goodbye in the airport terminal and suddenly they’re on their own—and so are you. But what if they encounter challenges? What if they need your help? What is a parent or guardian to do?

A balanced approach

It is widely acknowledged among mental health professionals that parenting approaches such as helicopter parenting and snowplow parenting can hinder youth from developing into independent, resilient adults.

Rather, healthy development depends significantly on youth having opportunities to solve problems, overcome obstacles and take reasonable risks independently, without parental intervention.

But you don’t want to step out of the picture entirely.

So what is a balanced approach to distance parenting your university student, which empowers them to discover their independence, resilience and agency, while making sure they know they can turn to you for support when needed?

While there’s no magic formula, here are some pointers to help you address a few common issues.

Venting time

Get ready for it. You’re bound to get at least one phone call home that involves your student venting about one (or more) issues, whether it’s a conflict with a roommate or neighbour, a difficult class or assignment, or any mix of the challenging emotions that come along with their university adventure.

But remember, venting is literally a way to release pressure—to blow off some steam. It is not necessarily a request for you to jump in and solve the problem for them.

Try this

Instead of diving in with a solution, ask the following question at some point in the conversation:

“Would you like me to listen to you, or would you like me to listen and offer advice?”

Note that this question doesn’t ask “would you like me to solve the problem for you?”

Asking the question about what kind of support your student would like keeps them in the driver’s seat; it tells them that the direction of the conversation is in their hands.


Grades at UBC are communicated directly to students and, like all of your student’s personal information and records, they are protected by BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA).

If your student is reluctant to share their grades, there could be many reasons, which may or may not be an indicator of how well they are performing.

Try this

Discuss your expectations early: Have a conversation before they leave for UBC, or early in the year, to establish that you expect to see and discuss grades at the end of each term. That way, when you ask later, it’s the natural outcome of that agreement, rather than prying into their affairs.

Keep it neutral: When you ask to see or discuss their grades, try to keep a neutral tone, so your student knows the conversation is about helping them measure and track their progress, rather than about judgment, criticism or failed expectations.

Having said all that, there is a way for parents to directly access some records, such as a student’s grades, if the student submits a third-party authorization to the university.

Substance use

An important conversation to consider having with your student is about substance use—alcohol, cannabis, nicotine and other substances.

It’s recommended to have a conversation with your student about this subject, no matter how challenging, to discuss expectations and risks.

When to lean in

Maybe your student hasn’t returned your calls. Maybe you’ve got a feeling that something’s up. Whatever the case, there is a role for parents in ensuring the health, wellbeing and safety of their student.

There are a few ways to engage UBC and community resources to help with any concerns or worries you might have, whether that’s reaching out via a Residence Life staff member or helping your student connect with health and wellbeing resources at UBC.

To learn more about what you can do if you’re concerned—and how UBC can help—read I’m worried, my student hasn’t returned my calls.

Know where to find help

Take some time to familiarize yourself with these UBC resources:

Making friends

By Sam Horton, UBC student

Before coming to UBC I was the perpetual “new kid.” I had attended ten schools by the time I was 16 and lived all over the United States. Today, I can proudly say that I have mastered the art of friend-making. And with these tips, you can too.

1. Residence is where it’s at

Residence is the best place to make friends. Many of your new neighbours are new to UBC and looking for people to hang out, study, eat meals and explore with. These folks will become your second family, so get to know them. Attend your floor and community meetings and be sure to get out to residence and campus-wide welcome events—that’s where a lot of people connect for the first time.

2. Open doors

Here’s an easy way to meet people: when you’re in your room just leave your door open. That signals to your floor mates that you want to get to know them. Look up and smile when people walk by. Chances are, they’ll peek into your room and give you a smile or a wave, too. And when you walk down the hall, take your floor mates’ open doors as a signal to say hi.

3. Send positive signals

If you want to make friends, look approachable. Some people don’t get this. They wear their earphones, check their phone or avoid making eye contact. Those things send a signal—whether it’s right or wrong—that they don’t want to interact. To appear approachable, sit at a large table in the dining hall or library. Smile, make eye contact and say hi when someone sits down. And invite others to join you—it could be the beginning of a new group of friends.

4. Take it online

Social media is a great way to get to know other UBC students and residents. Search for groups for your school year, residence or floor. Most people are looking to meet new friends, so make sure you introduce yourself in real life too!

5. Remember, we’re all in this together

One last thing: we’re all adults here, and you can be friends with anyone, of any age, in any year. We’re all here to learn, grow and make new friends.