As Year 12 comes to a close and university draws nearer on the horizon, mixed emotions may arise for parents and children alike. The end of this childhood era, awash with nostalgia, gives way into excited yet anxious anticipation as they transition to university and life as an independent adult.
Their next few years at uni will involve countless new experiences, some which will really set the tone for their life. University is a time for rapid personal growth, and that extends to the parent-child dynamic – however, even though it might seem like they don’t need you, they do, and that’ll never change. Your encouragement and support will be integral throughout their transition into uni life and will be something they cherish throughout their adulthood.
With this exciting, somewhat intimidating time ahead, we’ve put together some tips to guide you through supporting your child’s transition to university.
Establish tertiary expectations
One of the first steps in this transitional period is to ensure your child understands the differences between high school and university – after all, they’re completely unique beasts! From enrolment to timetables, attendance to academic staff, laying out these new concepts and explaining how they’ll factor into their uni life is key in establishing what’s expected of them.
Most universities have Orientation Week activities that do a great job of explaining the ins and outs of campus life, however, they might be expected to have a handle on certain elements before this. So, whatever you can do to ease them into this new stage in life won’t go astray. Much of their university journey will be self-directed, so it’s important that they’re prepared to take responsibility for themselves, their study time and their daily schedules.
Where will your child live once they begin university? Will they live at home to begin with and progress to living independently? On-campus or off-campus? Will they need transport, and are they equipped to access this? How much will everything cost, and who’s responsible for these costs?
These are some great discussion points to cover off when you’re broaching the university conversation with your child. If they’re living at home, it might be a good time to implement ‘house rules’ and make them clear on any expectations you have of them contributing to the running of the household. If they’re venturing out on their own, will they have the support of meals and services in on-campus housing? If not, take some time to outline a few basic life skills to give them a head start.
Finance and budgeting
As your child becomes more independent, it’s important that they learn how to manage their money. The first step here is learning how to budget effectively. Set aside some time to discuss the level of financial support they’ll receive from you, if any, and to evaluate whether they need to consider part-time or casual work if not already working. With a weekly or monthly figure in mind for their ‘earnings’, create a basic budget by estimating some expenses. Things to consider include groceries, rent, phone bill, internet, petrol/public transport costs and the fun stuff, like meals out, takeaway coffees and entertainment.
Community and support
As part of their transition to a new environment that might mean a big reduction in contact with their support system, it’s important your child knows the support available to them. Of course, you’ll always be a phone call away, but sometimes they’ll need support services specific to university life, academics or career development. Encourage your child to seek out what’s available to them at uni, which can include (but isn’t limited to) disability, LGBTIQ+ and Indigenous support services where applicable, academic support, career support and counselling. Universities have so many options available to guide and assist students through the often-tricky process of navigating their studies and uni life.
As you send them off into the great beyond that is their future, remember that although they may seem completely capable and on top of it one day, they may struggle or lose confidence the next – and that’s okay! It’s all part of navigating one of life’s biggest transitions, so most importantly, be there as their primary support system, come what may.