Starting University is an exciting, but nerve wracking time for you and your child. You’ll both be out of your comfort zone, as you have to let go enough to send them out into the world, and they have to learn to look after themselves. There are a few great ways to help get you both ready for this big change.
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Teach Them To Fend For Themselves
University will be a lot easier on your child if they already have some idea of how to fend
for themselves. Living in student accommodation can be a steep learning curve if they’re
not used to cooking, cleaning or laundry.
During their last summer at home, set them the challenge of looking after themselves.
Give them a budget, and ask them to cook dinner for the family one night a week, so they
get used to shopping on a budget and cooking some actual meals instead of relying
on the takeaway. Help them to learn some cheap to make recipes or bulk meals like
casseroles or lasagna.
Stop doing their laundry and put them in charge of it, so you know they know how
to use a washing machine without your help. Ask them to do the grocery shop for the
family occasionally, and stop helping them to organise their life. No more shouting
up the stairs to check they’re up for college. They’ll need to learn to get by without you.
Teach Them To Budget
University isn’t cheap. Even setting aside the cost of the fees, your child will need to
learn to live on their student loan and budget throughout the term. If they’re not used to
budgeting, it can be easy for them to overspend at the beginning of term and end up
short later on. Encourage them to learn to meal plan to save money on food.
Sit down and have a chat about money. Set some rules about when you’ll be willing to
bail them out if they’ve overspent. You need them to feel like they can tell you if they
have got into a mess, but you don’t want them to fritter their money away because they
know they can always ask you more. They need to learn to live on their own money
and be responsible with their finances.
Help With Homesickness
It’s natural for students to feel a bit homesick when they first get to University. They will
miss their old friends, and the family, and may be a bit scared of making new friends and
learning to live alone. If they’re struggling, they might ask you to come home to visit a lot
in their first few weeks. As you much as you might miss them, encourage them to wait
before they come home. If they come in the first weeks, they’ll miss out on a lot of
important socialising and chances to make friends.
If your child is homesick and is asking to come home, that’s going to be rough on you too.
Try to be tough, and push them to rough it out for at least the first month before you let
them come back for a visit. Instead, stay in touch over the phone, or start up a family
Whatsapp chat so everybody still feels involved with each others day to day life.
Encourage Good Study Habits
Going from college to university can be quite a culture shock and the workload expected
may be a struggle at first. If you have always been a big help to them for homework and
revision, now is the time to step back and let them learn how to work alone.
Help them to find a revision method that works for them, but after that, don’t get involved.
At University, they will need to motivate themselves without you. Instead, make sure they
know that they should approach their tutors for help if they’re finding it hard to keep up.
You can be a listening ear, but they need to learn to study without your intervention.
Teach Them To Be Safe
It’s not all that nice to think about, but it is important to send them off to university with
some idea of how to keep safe. For many students, they won’t be used to the freedom,
the drinking and the temptation that can be a normal part of student life.
Have a frank chat about safe sex. You might prefer to assume they won’t be having sex
at university, but you need to give them the tools to stay safe. Make sure they know they
need to always use a condom, and where they can get birth control.
Gently remind them about getting home safely from a night out. They should never try to
drive home or accept a lift from anyone who has been drinking. They should also know
how to spot a licensed taxi, and that getting an unlicensed on is a risk. Many parents now
give their children an Uber account, but add their own card to pay for it, so they know that
their child can always get home safely.
Boys and girls should be reminded not to ever leave a drink unattended, and not to let
someone wander off alone on a night out. Make sure they know how to spot the signs of
someone who has had a drink spiked and how they should help them.
Sit down and have a conversation about mental wellbeing. University is a big life change
and it’s natural to feel stressed occasionally. If they are getting overwhelmed and feel
unable to cope, it’s important to give them the tools to manage. Universities offer support
for students who need it, so encourage them to use those services and talk to you whenever
they feel they need to.
University can be overwhelming and scary for both of you, but it is also an amazing
opportunity. Once the first difficult weeks are over and they start to make friends,
your child is sure to love student life. Give them the tools to look after themselves,
and they can use university as a chance to learn about themselves and lay the foundations
for growing into a self-sufficient, independent grown up that you can be proud of after they