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Off To University: Have You Prepared Your Teenager?

By on September 12, 2015

Although most 18 year olds think of themselves as adults, the first term at university can be tough: freshers’ flu, budgeting, making new friends, and of course, the academic work.
Here are a few things you can bear in mind.

Ready, steady, cook

The practical stuff first. What to buy? If they are self-catering in halls, they’ll need all the kitchen paraphernalia. It’s worth buying reasonable quality pans and knives as they have to last three years, and if you buy cheap as chips they’ll need replacing quickly. But be realistic – in shared kitchens, equipment can be borrowed and can go missing.

If your teen can’t boil the proverbial egg, and they aren’t happy to live on pot noodles for three years, then the summer holidays is the time to teach them how to rustle up the spag bol, and a few other simple meals.

And given the budget restrictions they will have, it’s not a bad idea to let them cook for themselves, or at least do a weekly shop from the safety of home for a week.

And can they wash? No, not themselves, do they know how to separate out the denims from the white T shirts? One independent school, Many sixth formers do not know how to do their laundry, cook, or clean a bathroom. What better excuse do you need to enlist them in helping around the house this summer?

The temptations

But it’s the sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll that is the real worry. Many universities offer a great deal of support for students: counselling is free.
There are issues with having to navigate the visits to the Doctor alone for the first time, and other support services. Minor illnesses such as colds can be quite overwhelming if they don’t have familiar people around to ask advice of.

Drugs and alcohol won’t be new issues for most teens, but it’s essential for parents to keep the lines of communication open without nagging or preaching.

It is suggested that if parents are worried, they should take a softly, softly approach: “Don’t say ‘ Goodness, you look thin!’ , next time they are home, just pick a good time to ask if there is anything they want to talk about.”

What should you look out for? Any major change in appearance or behaviour: weight loss, weight gain, poor skin, lots of minor illnesses, sleeping a lot more or not sleeping much, constantly phoning home, or even not phoning at all.

Ask for help

Depending on the content of their degree, your teen may feel “as if they have been hit by a brick”, and learning to study independently is a major issue for many students; no more nagging parents or teachers – they are on their own.

As a parent, it’s vital that you suggest to your teen that they ask for help – from a personal tutor or a counsellor – if they are falling behind with the work.

Most students though take to university life like the proverbial ducks to water.

What you can do to help is:

• Ensure they know the basics about laundry, cooking, cleaning, and food hygiene – poisoning their flat mates won’t go down well.

• Discuss budgeting – how will their loan and or cover food, bills, clothes and entertainment.

• Set expectations about contact: do they want a weekly phone call or more often?

• Emphasise the importance of registering straight away with a GP: most universities set this up during the first week, but if your teen is not living in hall, it can be harder to organise.

• Sort out what they need for I.T. Most universities provide the internet in rooms, but you might need connection cables, and a computer and printer are essential.

Does anyone have any other tips on how to prepare a teenager for University?

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