I'm a sibling, get me out of here: Studying at the same university as your sibling

University is traditionally a place where you can fly the nest and assert your independence, away from the confines of family life. So what happens when you end up at the same university as your nearest and/or dearest?

Helen and Katherine Burch discuss the pros and cons of having a sister on campus. They remain on speaking terms. So far...

Katherine is a second year

The bad...

"You can't just follow your sister to university," one friend told me. Oh yeah? Watch me...

Of course most people who go to the same university as their siblings do not go there because their family member studies there, myself included. They choose it for the course or location. This may sometimes be the same because you and your siblings have similar interests, or you may just end up there. Still, it can be very annoying when people assume that you are a clingy younger sister unable to go anywhere alone.

If you have the good luck or bad luck, depending on your point of view, to look like an identical but slightly younger version of your sibling, people will immediately come up to you going “awww it's miniature Helen.” But however cute you may look to them, pinching your cheeks whilst telling you this is not appropriate and actually quite painful. Also, while ordinarily my sister and I get on well, I can't help feeling that if we ever did fall out, she would have rather a lot of information to blackmail me with.

The good...

One great thing you have is someone to confide in who won't gossip about you (well not to your friends but possibly to your parents). As much as I love university and the close-knit world you live in there, it can sometimes be a bit intense and every little thing that happens can spread like wildfire. So it can be a relief to have somebody to talk to who won't repeat what you say to everyone you know.

Personally I love meeting new people. And having a sister around, you will have your sibling’s friends to provide a different group of amigos for you to hang out with. This helps you encounter people from other years who are not doing your course who you otherwise would not meet. Also it's very advantageous to have an instant group of friends when you arrive as a Fresher.

...and The useful

Another great thing about going to the same university as your older sibling is the food. It's a bit like having your mum around to cook for you. When all the other first years are living off of pasta having run out of money, you can go round to your lovely sibling’s and have a full roast dinner, made even better by the fact it is not from a microwave or pub.

Helen is a third year

The bad...

“I thought the wine had hit me hard and I was going mad,” said one person on my course after seeing a strangely different, ultra-smiley version of me bouncing around an end of year ball and believing they were starting to hallucinate.

As Katherine has mentioned, this was exactly what we had expected. Due to our similarity, Katherine quickly got used to grinning and waving maniacally at people she didn’t know, just so they didn’t think I’d ignored them. However, I did receive one different response. “I wish you hadn’t warned me off your sister,” said one charming boy, with no hint of a joke. “She’s hotter than you”. This lack of politeness proved why I’d felt the need to tell him to keep away with the ferocity of a pitch-fork wielding farmer.

The good...

However, I discovered quite a few benefits of having your sibling at the same uni as you. The whole of campus suddenly starts to feel like your front room. You begin to wonder how that stranger got in, and give them a long, territorial stare, before you remember that they have to fill their water bottle from the uni dining hall too. Attending a freshers’ event alongside real, hyper-excited freshers can be fun, jogging memories of how you felt before transforming into a jaded, world weary, second or third year.

While adding to your slight sense of superiority that you are obviously far above any old event that has ‘fancy dress' and 'cheap shots’ in the title (yet still jumping up and down in the front row wearing a pair of glittery angel wings slightly askew). This self-satisfaction quickly disappears when you’re bogged down in essays that actually matter towards your degree, growling “I can’t go out, some of us have REAL work,” as your sister sashays off to another pub.  

There is also a strong possibility that you may get on better now that you aren’t forced to inhabit the same few square metres. You may find it easier to forgive certain annoying habits, such as their penchant for German rap music, when you don’t have to be in the same house. If you really can’t stand each other and have been forced to attend the same location due it being the best place you have been accepted, or specialising in your course, then don’t worry about running into each other all the time; you will almost never meet. Even in the small Cornish town that we inhabit, Katherine and I have met each other only once without arranging it. Different years and different friends mean that you would have to be incredibly unlucky to have a timetable and nights out that coordinated with each other. 

...and the useful

Finally, if your sister or brother shows a selfish urge to take a gap year, remind them that student finance gives far larger maintenance grants to students who have at least one brother or sister at university and a household income of under £50,000 per annum. And you thought your annoying younger sibling would never be any use...

Katherine and Helen Burch are in their second and third years respectively at the University of Exeter.

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice