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.

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Guru Careers: Graduate Account Executive / Digital Account Executive

£20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Digital Account Exec ...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £22500 per annum + OTE £30K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before