The first year at college is a learning curve for parents as well as the students. Here are five tips on what you can do over the next few months, before your child moves away, to help them transition to university life.
- For most kids, this will be the first time they will be in charge of their finances. Have a discussion, collectively curate their college budget and identify how much money will be required monthly for food, transportation, phone and other expenditures.
- Teach them how to cut cheques and pay bills.
- Create a shared Google sheet to keep track of finances and coach them about how best to keep a check on expenses.
- Help them set up a local bank account. Discuss your family views on loaning and borrowing money from friends.
Tip: Your university website will typically have a breakdown of the cost of attendance, giving you an idea of how much you should budget for.
The art of cooking
- In the first year at college, a lot of homesickness is related to food. This summer, make prepping for a meal a family activity; let them practice cooking and building on their culinary abilities.
- Begin with simple to make comfort foods, the kind they can put together with easily available ingredients. Encourage them to independently cook a few meals weekly for the family.
- Make sure they are comfortable using the microwave and oven.
- Teach them about food storage; let them handle grocery shopping.
Tip: Invest in a college cookbook / cookery class that features three to five ingredient meals that are quick and filling.
- Encourage them to reach out to future Batchmates / Roommates. It’s always a comfort to have a sense of familiarity with the students in class or those they will be sharing personal spaces with.
- Remind them to reach out to their seniors who can give insights on the right places to eat, the differences in accommodation and classes to take in the first year.
- Speak to them about any concerns or anxieties they (or you) may be having. Plan family calls and correspondence details so you can all feel connected.
Tip: Dorm rooms typically have limited space: help your child determine who will be bringing which items and needed furnishings to the campus. Will they need a mini fridge or microwave? How about curtains?
- Teach them to do their own laundry, to know which clothes can be machine-washed, follow wash instructions, separate loads based on colours, as well as how to hand-wash.
- Remind them to get a haircut, go to the dentist, and the doctor before they leave. They don’t need to stress about finding a place to get their hair done or making sure their prescriptions and vaccinations are up to date.
Tip: Help them learn how to make their bed, stack a dish-washer and clean up after meals.
Read and action all correspondence from the university
- Check what documents your child needs to carry to college, including final grade 12 transcripts and insurance documents.
- Stay on top of important dates including fee payment and accommodation deadlines as well as student loans/scholarship logistics. Know the dates for moving in/moving out, beginning and end of semesters and school breaks. This will allow you to plan their academic year and travel itineraries.
- Determine what supplies your child may require, for instance does the college require a laptop with a certain computer software? We’ve put together a comprehensive list of all that your child needs to carry: click here to download our College Packing List.
Tip: Some colleges have a parent portal or support groups on social media where updates related to college are posted. Sign up!
Familiarising your child with these basic life-skills will make for a smoother transition to university life. Enjoy the time you have together: your confidence and support will allow them to make the most of this wonderful opportunity! Good luck!