When your child heads off to college, they’re signing up for a career-enhancing education, for a chance to meet like-minded people, and an experience that will secure their independence and help them properly cross the threshold to adulthood. They’re going to have to learn how to take care of themselves, and as a parent, it’s only natural for you to worry.
When your child is 18, they will more than likely think that they’re ready to handle the big, bad world – but, in reality, it’s their first time making properly adult decisions, so the chances are that they’ll need a little bit of support from you. That said, it can be difficult providing that support without stepping on their toes.
Here’s how you can help them settle into college without making them feel that you’re taking away their newfound independence.
When your child goes off to study their degree, they will have to learn how to manage their money properly, and it won’t take long for them to run out of cash if they don’t learn quickly. They have to pay for accommodation, food, and other student essentials – oh, and let’s not forget the money needed for all those exciting social events!
Before they head off, you can help them out by putting together a money-management plan. Your child will probably yawn at the thought of a budgeting plan, but they will soon learn to use it when they see their funds start to dwindle in their bank-balance. Take a look at their incoming loan payments, help them apply for part-time jobs in advance, and calculate how much money they’ll need to comfortably get by.
Now, it can be difficult for a student to say no to a night out – especially if all their friends are going – and this might distract them from the plan that you put in place, but as long as they roughly follow it, they should be okay.
THE BORING BITS
Your child will find out their results (congrats to them, by the way), and instantly enter student mode. Their mind may start racing away at this point – thinking about all the nights out and the general student experience – causing them to forget about all the boring organisational bits that need to happen in between.
There’s plenty to arrange before they head off to college, and it can be easy to forget about the important paperwork that needs to be done beforehand. You can make their life that little bit easier by helping them fill out all of the tricky accommodation and university enrolment forms – they probably won’t mind having a hand with this bit.
GET A STUDENT BANK ACCOUNT
Your child probably has a bank account already, but it definitely won’t have all the benefits that a student bank account has. Once your child is enrolled on a course, they will be entitled to sign up for a student account, and each bank will offer different incentives to lure them in (we recommend one that offers a rail discount so that they’ve got no excuse not to come home and visit you).
Because you’re an adult, you’ll know more about bank accounts and how they work, and you can find them the best deal by shopping around.
IMPROVE THEIR CULINARY SKILLS
Your child might already be able to cook. If they can, great! But if they can’t, they will need to learn quickly. When they’re looking after themselves, they’ll have to know how to make some basic, nutritious meals while keeping waste to a minimum. If they know how to make the most out of certain foods, they’ll throw away less and save some money in the process.
Give them a couple of demonstrations on how to make the most out of certain ingredients, then tie this into their budgeting plan so that they know they can always fall back on some core money-saving meals if they need to.
JUST BE THERE
College is a time when your child will start to become a proper adult, and it’s up to them to make sure that they take care of themselves. Once they are off, the best thing that you can do is make sure that you are there to support them when they need you, but let them have the freedom to learn from their own mistakes and manage adult life.
If you want to find out more useful advice about supporting your child through college, take a look at our blog.