You have seen your child through every stage of their education, offering all the support you can give along the way. As you child heads off to university or college, however, you must inevitably take a step back. But, there is still plenty you can do before your child leaves home to get them equipped for university. Send My Bag brings you the ultimate guide to helping your child prepare for and settle into university life.
1. Set expectations
Your child shouldn’t expect university to be an extension of school. Prepare them for the onus to be on them, as they will have to work independently a lot of the time, with only minimal guidance from a tutor or supervisor. If your child is used to being top of the class, they should be prepared for this not to be the case at university, where many students who excel in their subject will be brought together. On the other hand, university might be the break your child needs to put any A Level failures behind them and focus on a subject they really love and that they have the ability to excel in.
2. Teach them valuable skills
It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing everything for your child. But this won’t help them much when they are living away from the family home. So start teaching them skills such as cooking and cleaning as soon as possible, so that they can cope when you’re not around. Teach them: how to separate laundry colours, which items can be tumble dried and which cannot, how to iron without leaving burn marks, how to cook good-value but nutritious meals, and the importance of observing essential food hygiene rules. If you are feeling up to the challenge, you could even teach them some extra skills like sewing on a button or how to write a cheque.
3. Teach them about money management
This may be the first time your child will have access to their own money on a daily basis. So make sure they don’t spend it all during Fresher’s week, but that they set aside what they need to pay for rent, transport costs, food, etc. You could then discuss a weekly spending limit for any spare cash.
4. Establish goals
Help your child make the most of their time at university by encouraging them to do well academically, but also to develop skills in other areas. You could discuss a manageable plan that will help them create an impressive CV, including getting involved in committees, taking on roles of responsibility and gaining work experience through internships during the summer holidays.
5. Don’t hamper their social life
Another area you will want your child to do well in is their social life. You will want them to establish friendships at university from the outset. This means that when you help your child move to university, you shouldn’t spend any more time there than necessary. The first few days and even hours of a Fresher’s life will be crucial to the bonds they form with other students, so make sure they don’t spend that time on long goodbyes with you. This doesn’t mean you should avoid all contact. Check in with your child every now and then as they will likely feel overwhelmed at some point or another, and would benefit from a chat with mum or dad.
6. Help them pack
As this is their first time heading off to university, your child could probably benefit from your input when it comes to packing. You can make sure they have everything they need to help them cope away from the conveniences of home. Read our guide on what to take to university to make sure you don’t miss anything out. You don’t need to be too selective about what you send them off to uni with, though, as you can just send everything to their university accommodation with Send My Bag. This is especially handy if you child is travelling by plane. It means you don’t have to buy a second plane ticket to act as luggage mule.
7. Research the area
Spend an hour or two with your child researching the area they will be moving to. Find out what transport options are available if your child needs to travel some distance between student accommodation and teaching facilities. Point out to them where the closest doctor’s surgery, dentist, hairdresser and supermarket, etc., are located. You should also swot up on important information relating to tenancy agreements, enrolment deadlines, reading lists and term dates so you are in the know even if your child isn’t!
8. Teach moderation
Freshers will want to let their hair down in light of their new-found freedom, but you should remind them not to overdo it and stress the dangers of giving into peer pressure. Reiterate the importance of rehydrating when drinking alcohol and of avoiding any other addictive substances. Should your warnings fall on deaf ears, you can also equip them with some tips for dealing with a hangover.
Recovering after a set of bad A Level results is all about taking control of the situation. Feel free to be disappointed, upset or angry, but don’t let these emotions prevent you from carving another path for your future. If you never imagined an alternative to your original career plan, now is the time to get your thinking cap on. You should decide whether you still have the same end goal for your career or whether there is actually something else you would like to do instead. To help you decide, Send My Bag has put together a list of some of the many options for school leavers.