Once those all-important A level results arrive, will your teenager be looking forward to moving on to the next stage of their life by starting university in the Autumn?
Here are a few tips to support parents in preparing them, so you can sleep slightly easier, once they have flown the nest.
Help them to familiarise themselves with the town or city where they will be studying including the campus layout, location of faculty teaching blocks, public transport, location of the supermarket etc. A visit over the summer might help with this.
Return any accommodation application forms for a place in a hall of residence promptly. Being amongst other ‘Freshers’ in a hall of residence, rather than a rented house during year one, will make finding their way around and meeting new friends easier and give a gentler acclimatisation into University life, especially if they have, to date, been living at home.
Help them to plan the clubs and societies they will join during Fresher’s week. University is a fabulous opportunity to try a huge variety of new and exciting sports and activities and those who get fully involved from the outset will make new friends and hence settle quickest.
Organise their finances by opening a bank account. Shop around for the one that is offering the best student incentives and ideally chose one which has a branch located close to the university or even better on campus.
Spend some time going through the importance of budget planning and monitoring cash-flow carefully. Advise against credit cards. Getting a job during the long summer months post A level will give them a head-start with a few savings.
If the timetable structure of their course looks like there might be time for some part-time work to supplement their student loan income, help them to get a CV and application letter ready and to start to research places where they might seek employment once in situ. Talk them through body language and basics of interview technique. Reliability, looking respectable and a friendly personality will be the key factors to get across. Review pictures and comments on their Facebook page as many potential employers will now review these before taking on young people.
Have some fun in the kitchen helping your teenager with planning and cooking healthy meals on a budget. Reproducing some of mum’s home-cooked dishes for new friends will be a positive way to cope with homesickness in the early stages.
Have a serious chat about safety, keeping gadgets and tech safe, managing drink, turning down drugs and coping with peer pressure to do things which they may feel are out of their comfort zone.
Find out what the local GP arrangements are for students and register them.
Advise against taking too many possessions with them for the start of the first term. Some things are essential, but having too much will cramp their living space and be too hard to keep track of. Homely but uncluttered is best. Valuables should be minimal. Make sure key items are covered by appropriate insurance.
Advise against taking a car until they have seen where they will be living and investigated the parking arrangements. If they do choose to take a car, drink-driving should be discussed.
A bike is a good investment and don’t forget lights and a high-vis top.
A laptop with a good size screen will be crucial. Consider getting a separate mouse, keyboard and ensure they have the latest up-to-date software. Consider how their work will be backed-up and a few USB sticks might come in handy.
Agree how you will keep in touch. Email, text, mobile, Skype. Give them space to explore this exciting new stage of their life, but explain your need to hear from them every once in a while, to be reassured they are happy and safe.