How to help your child prepare for University

Sep 22nd

Now is the time of year that many parents are preparing for their Children to leave the nest, your role as a parent is changing however much you want to stay at their side the truth is you can’t! You have prepared them for living independently and to have all of the skills and qualities they need to make the transition to life away from home. Their next chapter at University is about to start and many parents at this time feel unsure about how their teenager will cope!

It can be a difficult time for both students and parents; this is the stage where your job is to encourage them to cope for themselves. We have put together a few ideas to set your teenager up for a successful start:

Independent Living
It will be a huge help if you teach your teenager to be responsible for their own washing, cleaning and feeding themselves reasonable healthily, as if they learn to look after themselves before University they’ll have less to take in overall. A good way to do this is to firmly handing over the domestic reins one night a week during their last summer at home. Making sure they can cook a few simple meals and operate a washing machine is a must.

A great present to leave them with is a University Kit – essentially a plastic box packed with stationery, batteries, spare pens, post its, scissors, first aid kit, painkillers etc. As well as a week’s worth of basic shopping essentials including tea, coffee, soft drinks, biscuits, crisps, bread and chocolates will be greatly received!

At University they will need to get themselves up and out of bed, remember to go to lectures and organize their day. So ending morning wake-up calls and final reminders well before they move onto Campus is beneficial for them.

Another conversation you will need to have is about staying in touch, it’s not reasonable to expect long daily conversations or continuous texts. However agreeing a minimum level of contact a text every few days just to reassure you and then leave the rest up to them is advisable.

This is one of the biggest issues for most students: making new friends, keeping in touch with old ones and coping with feeling lonely.

In the first few weeks, they can be tempted to dash back home and hang out with their old mates. Be firm. If they leave on the first weekend, they will miss a lot of opportunities and events specifically organized to start getting them included into student life at their University. Encourage them to stick it out, it can be quite daunting, but it’s worth it in the end. After all today there are whole hosts of ways they can keep in touch with their friends back home.

The move from school to university is a huge life change. Even the brightest students expect it to be like sixth form, and it simply isn’t.

Universities are set up to get students through their studies, if they have problems with their studies get them to talk to their personal tutors. And no, you shouldn’t be taking over and doing it for them, they need to actually pick up the phone or email their tutor for help. As remember they are adults now, you can remind them how they prioritised through A-levels, but beyond that don’t do more than a pragmatic adviser.
This is a topic to tackle before they go. It is important to do the ‘look after yourself’ talk even if you are revisiting old ground.

Remind them of a few key points:

  • Not to get in a car with a driver who has been drinking or one who uses their phone while driving.
  • They need to know how to protect themselves from unsafe sex – boys as much as girls.
  • The dangers of binge drinking and drugs.
  • Watch out for each other e.g. no one leaves their drink unguarded in a club or wanders home alone.
  • If they start feeling it’s all too much, they shouldn’t suffer in silence and should talk to someone. Virtually every University has a counseling service, as they recognise young people find it hard, for all sorts of reasons. Encourage them to use it if they need to.

Talk to your child about finances, now more than ever University is an introduction to the adult world of money worries. One thing you can do is let them manage their own money at home for everything such as travel, clothes, eating out and going out before going to University. Talk through household management, how much money they will have at University and help them budget how much money they will have each week and a list of all the things they will need to use their money for.

It is also important to have a discussion as to how far you’re prepared to help them out financially if they get into serious difficulty. You are the safety net, but as parents you want to encourage them to manage by themselves and not for financial bailouts. Institutions have student services to keep students safe and happy which can provide help including hardship funds or help with finding a job.

Setting up a bank account for them well ahead of time and encourage your child to build up some savings before they go to University is essential. A Junior ISA can be set up at anytime before their 18th Birthday and if they aspire to go to University, saving a little amount of money on a regular basis will soon build up. For more information on Junior ISA options visit

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