17 May 2017

How to prepare for when your kids leave for university

One in ten parents feel distraught when their children leave for university, according to our latest research*. This is an understandably challenging time for you and your kids, but there's still a lot you can do to get them ready to fly the nest.

From signing forms to teaching them valuable life skills, now's the time to prepare them for their departure and ready yourself for the sadness you may feel at watching them go. We've put together some tips to help make the transition easier.

Sort out their admin

The university will provide options for student accommodation, most of which you'll need to apply for. It's always a good idea to submit the application early to help them avoid missing out on their preferred location.

Your child will also most likely need to apply for a student loan. The forms can feel a bit overwhelming, so don't let them get tempted to put them off until the last minute. Getting it sorted out in plenty of time will make sure funds get paid into their account as soon as they leave for university. Otherwise, you might find yourself having to lend them money until it shows up.

Getting a student account with good features is a great way to start this new phase in their financial lives. They might need to dip into an overdraft at some point, so keep an eye out for good options with low fees and interest rates. Why not take a look at our FlexStudent current account**?

Teach them essential life skills

There will never be a better time to convince your child they should be doing more household chores than just before they leave for university.

If they're not already house-trained in household basics like cooking, cleaning and doing their own laundry, try handing over these domestic responsibilities in once-a-week trial runs to help them get the hang of them before they go. You could try tempting them into the kitchen with a cooking lesson for one of their favourite family recipes.

Getting them into the habit of budgeting is also key. Although budgeting is often easier to plan but harder to do, you can help them by at least making sure they're armed with basic knowledge. Check out our student's guide to living happily on a budget.

Stock up on the necessities together

There's a long list of things they might need to get themselves set up. These can vary depending on what accommodation they're moving into. According to our research*, here's what parents are buying and spending on average:

  • Kitchen equipment - £49
  • Books and stationary - £107
  • Bedding - £51
  • Clothes - £70
  • Food - £94
  • Money towards a new laptop/computer - £144
  • Initial spending money - £168

Our research found parents spend over £650 on getting their kids set up at university. This might seem like a lot to spend in one go, but you can start buying some of the essentials now, and spread the cost over a few months.

It's worth waiting to see if they actually need everything you've planned for – your kids might be set on having their own pots and pans but kitchen items like cheese graters, colanders and veg peelers are often shared in student kitchens, so they might not be needed.

If they do find they're missing some essentials you can always send bits and bobs in the post – along with their favourite packet of biscuits.

Once you've got your trimmed-down shopping list ready it's a good idea to shop around – you'll be amazed how much you can save by passing on hand-me-downs or buying second-hand online.

Stay positive

Change always takes some courage. You'll be helping your kids and yourself by staying strong and just letting them know you'll be there to support them.

Once they're away and settling in, it'll be a period of adjustment to a new life for you too. Consider picking up those hobbies you never had time for, or spending more time with friends and family. You'll need support during this time too, so don't be afraid to reach out to those close to you.

No matter what, you can feel proud of what you've accomplished as a parent and feel hopeful about a time in which your kids will grow and flourish.

*OnePoll survey of 1000 parents of adult children who have left home, December 2016.

**To open FlexStudent you must be 18+; accepted on a full-time UCAS course of at least 2 years at a UK institution and be within 2 months either side of your course start date.

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