Lucky enough to have a teenager heading off to uni for the first time this month?
Welcome to exciting times ahead, while negotiating a shopping list the size of a textbook, some scary credit card bills and the emotional rollercoaster that accompanies delivering a son, or daughter to university.
Having packed twin daughters, Olivia and Sophia off last September, the realisation that there was a lot to learn from the experience made it so much easier to be wise after the event. Here are the top ten lessons learnt after moving in day:
- Check what’s actually provided in the accommodation and don’t double up on anything that’s not essential.
- Buy inexpensive kitchen kit if they’re going to be living in halls; chances are it’s going to get used, abused or mislaid. Over the past year, Olivia and Sophia have managed to lose: kitchen scissors, towels, cutlery, mugs, glasses, wooden spoons, saucepan lids and even a frying pan!
- Uni towns have shops too. If they’ve forgotten something, they can always go shopping.
- Think carefully about the amount of stuff they’ll actually need. Chances are their room will be smaller than the one they have at home and storage space will be limited.
- Unless they’re going a long way from home and not planning on coming back before the end of term, suggest they pack a small selection of clothes that are suitable for warm, cool, or wet weather. And only take clothing that’s easy to wash (and dry).
- If kitchen storage is limited and they’re struggling to store essential supplies, invest in an inexpensive drawer storage unit and cram everything in there instead.
- Go food shopping after arriving at university on moving in day, but write a shopping list first as it can all feel a bit overwhelming.
- Don’t forget important documentation, such as: driving license, confirmation of offer from UCAS, exam certificates, NHS number, Student Finance confirmation, bank details and accommodation contract.
- After moving in: help them to unpack a little, but don’t stay too long. Those first few hours in the company of fellow housemates are essential for making new friends and a vital part of settling in. It’s tough, but leaving them to it means that they’re more likely to feel at home right from the start.
- After spending the last 18 years reminding your child to take a coat, eat breakfast, arrive on time and everything else besides, all of this is now entirely up to them. Chances are they’ll make a few mistakes along the way, but isn’t that what growing up is all about?