When your child enrols onto a university course, they aren’t just signing up for a life-changing education: they’re also signing up for social experience, a step towards independence, and the start of their future career.
At the age of 18, they probably think that they are prepared to handle the responsibility, but if it’s their first time making adult decisions, they will more than likely need a little bit of parental support from time to time. Knowing when and how to step in without stripping them of their independence can be a difficult art to master, so we’ve outlined some key ways for you to help them settle into uni.
1. Budgeting Support
When your child moves out for university, they will quickly have to learn how to manage their money. They will have to pay for accommodation, food, and other essentials, as well as needing money for all the social events that appear in the busy student calendar.
As a parent, you can help them by creating a plan to manage their finances. You can take a look at their incoming maintenance loan payments, help them apply for part-time jobs, and work out how much money they will need to live on.
Now, there’s no guarantee that the lure of another night out won’t distract your child from their budgeting plan, but it will be a handy guide for them to follow when they do realise that they need to take care of their finances.
2. Admin Work
In between finding out their A-Level results and setting off for uni, there will be a lot to be organised in a short space of time. The chances are that your child will be spending this time getting excited for their time away, enjoying some end-of-an-era moments with their childhood friends, and trying to arrange things like accommodation and university enrolment.
There is plenty to arrange, and it can be easy to miss out the essential paperwork that is required for student finance, accommodation payment, or university registration. By helping them with the paperwork before they head off, you will make their life that little bit easier when they arrive at uni with all the necessary documents completed and in hand.
3. The Student Bank Account
Your child might already have a bank account, but it won’t have the same benefits that a student account has. When they enrol on a course, they will be entitled to an account with certain perks that other accounts don’t have. Each bank will offer some sort of incentive to students to get them to use their services.
As an adult, you’ll have a better understanding of these benefits and incentives, and you can offer your child advice about which bank account they should choose. Some banks offer interest-free overdrafts, others offer £100 to new signups; it’s all about shopping around and finding the best deal for your child.
4. Teach Them How to Cook
Cooking is a life skill that your child might already have – or they might not – but either way, when they are fending for themselves, they will have to know how to put together some basic meals with as little waste as possible. Knowing how to make the most out of certain foods will help to bring down their wastage and in turn save them money.
You can tie this into the budgeting plan that you create with them, taking into account the different meals that they can make with the fewest ingredients. This will also give you some peace of mind, because you will know that they are eating healthy and nutritious meals instead of the typical student diet of instant noodles and Doritos.
Be There for Them
When your child goes to university, they are taking their first step towards adulthood, and it’s ultimately up to them to make sure that they look after themselves properly. As a parent, your job is to give them the freedom and independence to learn how to manage adult life, while acting as a source of support when needed.
Daniel Sefton is a writer for The Student Housing Company, providers of modern, purpose-built student accommodation in the UK.