Family

Leaving home

Going to uni is a big move for both teens and parents
Leaving home

Leaving school and moving on to university is a huge milestone in your teenager’s life. It can take them out of their comfort zone, especially if they are going to study in another part of the country. As well as the challenges of tertiary study, they will have to deal with living away from their family, possibly for the first time. Here are a few ideas on how to prepare them for life as a uni student.

Make sure they know financial basics. Hopefully, they will have had practice balancing bank accounts, but if not, give them a crash course on keeping on top of finances. Get them to work out a budget based on their income – e.g. their student loan – their allowances and outgoings like rent and food.

Have “the talk”. There is a good chance you’ve done this, but if not, or if you think they need updating, take a deep breath and address all those tricky “growing up” subjects, like safe sex and substance abuse. Even if they seem pretty wise and don’t need reminders, it will show them you care.

Around the house. By this age, hopefully they should be competent when it comes to basic domestic skills, like cooking, cleaning and laundry. If not, they’ve got the summer to work on them!

Visit their new home. If they are going to be living away from home, if possible visit the university where they will be studying. Check out the accommodation, transport and facilities like the gyms and churches. Help them enrol with a doctor and dentist. Look into the availability of part-time jobs if they need to work to support themselves.

The student services. All universities and tertiary institutes will have these departments, and they are great sources of information and practical help. Contact them for any queries.

Encourage them to join extracurricular activities. Playing sports, joining a choir or signing up for clubs can be a great way of making new friends and helping them get a sense of belonging.

Discuss how often you will keep in touch. Are you happy for them to phone whenever they want, or will you want to set up a weekly Skype call? Organise this to avoid disappointment on both sides.

Expectations. Don’t read them the riot act about goals you expect them to reach. Yes, it is important to work hard and get university qualifications, but unless you know that they are in serious danger of failing, don’t nag them too much. University is about the whole experience of tertiary education, not just the qualification.

Plan for every possible contingency. Discuss what to do if they struggle with their coursework, get homesick, have problems with students or lecturers or find they are living beyond their means. Make sure they know that you are easily contactable and are always there for them. However, try to avoid leaping to their rescue every time something goes wrong. Offer advice by all means, but encourage them to come to a solution themselves, unless it’s an emergency.

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