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The Stand’s Guide to Academic Adoption

Whether it’s issues with sibling rivalry or academic incest, we’ve got you covered.

So, you’ve made it, you’re here. You’ve spent months stressing over exams and results, weeks picking out bedding and binders, but you’ve finally made it to St Andrews. What happens next?

As you will have undoubtedly been told about on numerous Open Days, Academic Families are a really important part of life here in St Andrews. When finding a family is thrown into the mix of Freshers’ Week parties, exploring a new town, making new friends, and getting to grips with lectures, the whole thing can get a little confusing.

Us folks at The Stand have put together a guide to academic adoption – what you should and shouldn’t do, and exactly how it works.

Photo by Natasha Franks

1. How do I meet my parents?

People meet their families in a variety of different ways and situations. These can include, but are not limited to, older students in your halls, on a night out at the Union, or through common interests in clubs and societies. There is no right or wrong way to go about finding your parents, so just do whatever feels natural to you.

2. What if more than one person tries to adopt me?

This is quite a regular occurrence at St Andrews, so don’t stress about it! The reality is, that most parents will try to adopt as many children as they can, and then just see how many of them actually follow through. At this early stage in the semester, you’re still finding your feet, and you have no real loyalties to anyone, so no one is going to be (too) upset if you don’t pick them. Furthermore, many “adoptions” occur after one too many Pablos in the union, so no one will remember exactly who they tried to adopt the night before. The best advice is to go with the person who seems nicest, and who you think you could have a real friendship with.

3. Should I go for parents who are adopting as a couple, or as a single person?

Many third years choose to have an academic marriage, with a mother and father adopting their children together. Whilst this can make for a stronger family unit and more coherent raisin weekend, it does mean that if a relationship with one of the parents fizzles out at a later stage, you may be left with no academic family at all. Families are not the be all and end all of life here, but it is something worth considering. Ultimately, there is no right answer to this question, and again the best advice is to just go with whoever you get on best with.

4. What if no one adopts me?

The most important thing to remember is not to worry if it’s taking you a little longer to find your family. It’s definitely worth taking the time to make sure you’re truly happy with your parents, rather than going with the first person you meet at the union. If you do end up stranded, Populus is a great resource for meeting people, and they run events for those who want to find academic children or parents each year. There are so many people looking to adopt that you will 100% find a family in time for Raisin.

Final Tips

  • Although finding your parents whilst drunk in the Union may be easy and compelling, you may find you have a better long term family arrangement if you seek out someone you meet at a society, who definitely has something in common with you.
  • If you commit academic incest at an early stage in the semester, it might be an idea to find a new parent. It has the potential to make things very awkward if it was just a one-time thing, and the family dynamic becomes a little weird if you intend on pursuing a relationship.
  • Remember that parents aren’t just there to get you drunk. If you have any questions about St Andrews, I’m sure they’ll be happy to help you out.
  • Enjoy the process! Academic adoption is a wonderful aspect of the university, and is something you should make the most of whilst you have the opportunity.

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