Helping your child survive uni
The scans, the crying, the nappies. From the first day of school to the last day of college – goes by pretty quick, right? They grow up so fast that they’re now off to uni!
The independence and education they’re about to experience is brilliant, but of course you want to make sure they’ll be okay, that they’ll have everything they’ll need to really make it on their own. Well there’s plenty of wisdom you can pass on that’ll be invaluable to them, even if they don’t know it yet.
Trying to make sure they don’t blow all of their student loan in two months should easy enough, first lesson? Budgeting.
First things first, go through and add up their income:
- Student loan – try and split this into an even monthly amount after the big stuff has been deducted (course materials, rent etc.)
- Parental contributions
- Income from part-time work
- Spendable savings
- Scholarships, grants and bursaries
Now add up your outgoings:
- Food – because they have to eat, and not just baked beans and pot noodles
- Rent – if you’re not in halls of residence you may need to account for utility bills and internet as well.
- Transport – running cost if you have a vehicle, bus and train costs for going into town or visiting family.
- Insurance – that’s a pretty expensive laptop, phone, TV and course material they’ve got there, so make sure it’s covered!
- Mobile phone bills and other direct debits – the Netflix subscription, mobile phone contract and other monthly outgoings all need to be accounted for if they’re necessary.
- Social budget – set aside a monthly allowance for going out with.
You can use a handy Budget Calculator to help you out with this.
Done it? Good, if it balances (or preferably you have an adequate amount left over for emergencies) then great it just needs sticking to, but if you’re outgoings total more than your income, we’ll have to make a few adjustments.
- Cancel any unnecessary subscription services
- Decrease your ‘social budget’
- Look at getting part-time work to supplement your income if you aren’t already.
Once you’ve ‘balanced the books’, it’s time to move on to the next thing.
This is important, rather than just ‘winging it’ a couple of days beforehand, what you’re going to take, how you’re going to get there and if you need any storage are things that need to be determined in advance.
What they should definitely take:
- Bedding (duvet, sheets, pillows etc.)
- Mug (how else will you stay caffeinated)
- Alarm clock
- Clothes (underwear, socks, casual wear, ‘going out’ clothes, waterproofs and gym stuff)
- Laundry bag
- Passport and any documentation you’ll need
What they probably don’t need;
- Entire stuffed animal collection
- All the clothes they own
- Laundry detergent and cleaning stuff (they can get this once they get there)
- The kitchen sink (no really, they’ll have one at uni).
How do we get it there?
If they don’t have their own car and yourself or another family member aren’t taking them, their friends are your best bet. They might be willing to drive them down if they’re off to the same uni. No luck? Reaching out to other students attending the same uni and offering petrol money in exchange for a ride could work.
If not, think about what they can leave at home and just purchase when they arrive (like bedding and toiletries for example) and just have them take whatever they can carry in a suitcase and backpack. Courier companies can deliver the rest of their stuff to them if necessary, especially bigger items.
So where do we put their stuff now?
You might have wanted them to take as much as they physically could, just so you don’t have to store it. But you don’t anyway, and there’s no need to feel obligated to keep it for them if you want, or need, the space for something else. There are plenty of storage facilities that will keep their belongings safe until leave uni and can retrieve them.
They might already be pretty well versed in the art of cooking, but if not there are some very simple (and cheap) recipes which are a must-have for student life.
- Bread – yes you can buy it from Lidl (or wherever they choose to shop) but making it yourself can be cheaper, more satisfying and they don’t have to go outside when they run out.
- Pasta bake – providing they like pasta, pasta bake I a very simple dish to make and provides the carbs they won’t get from a pot noodle
Making sure they're well looked after, and have all the things they've probably forgotten about make care packages very handy.
You can include things like:
- Clothes Hangers
- Laundry Bag/washing basket
- Storage boxes
Something like our Off to Uni Kit would be perfect
There are also some things you can put together for them to take back with them after they come to visit, or to just send across to them (it's good to remind them of home now and again).
- New notepads and pens
- Supermarket gift cards
- Photos and photo frames
Now they're all ready for your new adventure, and you can put the kettle and get your feet up!