8 Things You Can Do To Help Your University-Bound Child

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Life is broken down by milestones. First steps, first word, the first day of school, learning to ride a bike, getting into a team, teenage love, teenage heartbreak, graduation, first proper job marriage, kids; that sort of thing. There is one huge milestone missing from this list, though, a milestone that is becoming more and more popular, and that is university. This is a huge step; it’s a proactive choice your grown-up baby has made, one that comes with life experience, further education and new prospects.
But making this choice is only the start. There is a long, hiccupy and arduous journey that follows, and the best thing you can do as a parent is know how, when and what to get involved with. That is why we have come up with a list of things every parent of a university-bound student really out to do.
Time And Emotions
Your kid is going to university, that is something to be super-duper proud of, and super-duper excited by. You have absolutely every right to whizz like a spinning and top and bounce of the walls like an 80s pinball machine. However, you need to be aware that it won’t always feel like this and for one big reason; the entire process can get really stressful; for them for you, for the whole family. Right the way through from learning how UCAS works, to filling in application forms to dropping them off at their Halls Of Residence on their first day; it can all get pretty stressy. The best thing you can do to reduce these high-pressure moments is knowing they are coming and be prepared emotionally, financially and in terms of time.
What Colleges Are There?
This is one of those overwhelming things. It’s like looking at a menu that is longer than the Magna Carta and everything on offer has something delicious about it. So consider what universities are most respected by potential employers, which offer the best courses for your kid, whether halls or a privately rented place would be better and which campuses offer what. These are all things that may not be considered by your child, so it’s a great place to get involved. Yes, the education side of things is soooooo important, but so is the social aspect, so don’t ignore this. Go on the different websites, read blogs and forums and, if you can speak to people who have attended those places topping your child’s list. There’s no better source of insight than those who have been, there done it and got the hangover.
Financial Plan
There is so much to think about when it comes to the financial side of university. We know, right; fun, fun, fun. It’s not just working out how you are going to pay for the university fees either. It is so important that you get your uni-bound kid involved in this stage too by talking to them about how to budget their money (which they won’t have a lot of) and how to use their loans and grants wisely. If you can create a plan on this front, then they will be able to see what they have and whether they will need to get a part-time job to put a little bit of extra cash in their back pocket. It is also worth clarifying who will pay for what. It could be that you can help with their rent or utility bills, or you’ll pay for their train rides/petrol money when they come home. The more you plan for the better.
Staying In Touch With You
Your child is going to university. It’s a huuuge deal. They will no longer be living under your roof, which for many parents is a brand-new experience. You are bound to be as nervous and anxious as you are excited and proud. That’ why it is important to discuss communicating with you, phoning home and checking in. It is things like texting every so often is enough, or whether you would appreciate a call so that you know all is A-Okay. How often do you want them to call home too, that’s another one that you may want to discuss. This isn’t just for your peace of mind and to know they are all good in their new home, but so that they know you are only a phone call away should they need to speak to you, about anything.
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Safety First, Always
Look, we know this isn’t the easiest topic for any parent to engage in, but it is so important. It is part of your parenting responsibility and arguably the most important of the lot. Universities are experimental places; if you’re a graduate yourself then you’ll know this, and you’ll know there is no stopping this either. So, your best form of defense is to educate them on being safe. Talk to them about safe sex and the dangers of drugs and falling prey to peer pressure. Teach them what to do if they or a friend of theirs ends up in a situation where their heart starts to beat out of fear or uncertainty. Talk to them about how bad alcohol is too. Just make sure you aren’t lecturing them. This is the worst thing you can do. Instead, just talk to them. Do it over a pint in a pub garden if you want to make it a little more relaxed.
Be The Encouragement They Need
If you think this is a huge deal to you, then imagine what it must feel like to be your child. Sure, they probably can’t wait to get that new level of independence, but that will be clouded by worry and stress and anxiety, certainly to begin with. So just check in on them now and again, throughout the process. See how they are feeling about the whole thing, ask them what they are most excited about and what they are most nervous of. The best thing your teenage kid can know is that you have their back. Being able to turn to a parent about just about anything is the ultimate stress relief. You want them to trust you and they want your guidance, so communicate with them about these sorts of things.
Be The Teacher
In the build up to leaving day, it is your chance to embody Bear Grylls and teach your kid some of the most valuable life lessons and survival skills they will ever learn. At least the basics anyway. Teach them four basic meals that even the most kitchen-loathing teenager can master. Show them how a washing machine works, as well as a dryer. You know what, why not have them book a doctor’s appointment on their own too. All of these things that you have been doing for them all their life needs to swap hands now. The gauntlet needs to be handed over and you need to help them do this. Give a teenager a fish and you feed them for a day, teach a teenager to fish and you feed them for life, so long as they can be bothered to get out of bed.
Let Them Run
Your child is about to embark on their most solo and independent exploration ever and there is nothing you can do. After all, stopping the clock doesn’t stop time. As such, now is the time to start letting your child solve problems on their own and encourage them to do so as well. You aren’t going to be at uni with them, and they need to understand this. Time management, schedules, deadlines, responsibilities, classes, and everything else. It is up to them, and it is up to you to let them run.

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