Starting University – Seven Tips to Give Your Kids

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Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

We all remember the advice that has seen us through life’s transitions or pesky curveballs, so what wisdom should you impart to your kids ahead of university?

For many parents, university is the first time their kids fly the nest. Although blissful peace and quiet awaits, you still need to equip them with the knowledge to make the best of the next three years; arguably some of the most important they will ever experience.

To help get your youngsters on the right track – not necessarily the one you took during your formative years – the student experts over at Endsleigh have shared some sound advice for you to pass on.

“Embrace every opportunity, enjoy all the good times, learn from all the bad – you’re only young once!”

University is a safe haven to experiment and most importantly, learn from your mistakes. Try to remember that freedom and frivolity is what being young is all about, even if it was quite a few years ago! The worst thing is watching everyone else having a good time and looking back in regret, so try to encourage your son or daughter to embrace new experiences and live in the moment.  

“Give your career a kick-start while you’re studying.”

Sometimes young people can have so much fun at university that their qualification and career prospects at the end of their three-year adventure can appear a very distant concern. Advise them to join clubs and societies, study for entry level professional qualifications and gain summer work experience. All of these are skills that can give their CV a competitive edge in a brutal job market.

“Keep your family in the loop.”

While you’re probably enjoying the peace and quiet with your son or daughter away from home, ensure they keep in contact so you can lend a helping hand, particularly if it comes to finances before you end up being the financial ‘bail-out’.

“Don’t suffer in silence.”

Independence will stretch much further than rent and bills at university. 18-year-olds will need a great amount of self-discipline and motivation, as well as the ability to be autonomous and study independently. Remind them to use the lecturers and get advice, and that there is lots of support on campus available for them, they just need to ask.

“Prepare to be friends with people you wouldn’t expect to be friends with.”

University is about getting to know different personalities, backgrounds and cultures. Encourage your child to be inquisitive and take an interest in people. ‘People skills’ can be a broad term and an overused one at that, but the ability to strike up a conversation with just about anyone is an invaluable skill to take forward.

“It’s ok to be homesick.”

It can take up to six months to feel ‘at home’ in a new place, so your son or daughter will no doubt be homesick. Advise them to tough it out and their new university town will feel like a home from home before they know it. This will be a new transition, so they’ll need a calm and comforting voice on the end of a phone. Encourage them to confide in other students who will no doubt be in a similar head-space, which will help them forge new friendships and rely less on you.

“You don’t need to go out EVERY night during the 1st semester!”

This can be pretty crucial if your son or daughter has previous burnout tendencies. Excitement of a new place, people and possibilities can lead to endless partying which will be a strain on their bodies and bank balances. Remind them they have three years to experience university nightlife, there’s no rush!