This day was NEVER meant to come!

I vividly remember the moment my eldest found out he had got into university. We were on holiday and waiting for the UCAS website to open. When the results came in we jumped about with relief, disbelief, part surprise and pride, but after the initial wave of excitement, I began to feel a rather new and uneasy sensation creep through me. Slowly I realised that this amazing news meant he would be leaving home in a few weeks’ time. My little boy. This day was NEVER meant to come.

But some seriously good acting and a strong desire to avoid making him emotional I began to busy this unease by preparing and investigating how to make his transition as smooth and happy as possible.

There are some very useful lists and hints out there for new students. I particularly like this one from savethestudent.org. which is specifically aimed at Freshers and definitely worth a look.

But from a parent’s perspective, the things I learned from my experiences with two children now at university, are the more practical things which my son wouldn’t have sorted as a priority, but which are very important:

Four ‘must do’s’ before they leave for university

1. Meningitis Jab

Get the Meningitis jab (MenACWY), before they go. (Read this and you will see why it is so important). It is FREE and just a quick visit to the nurse at your surgery. (If you haven’t done it don’t panic because you can get it anytime whilst they are there).

Help your child sign up to the university medical centre. I told my son to do this, gave him the paperwork and it wasn’t until he got ill that I realised he hadn’t done it. It is particularly important if they have an existing condition like asthma or regular medication such as the Pill that will need a prescription.

It is also helpful to know that once your child has registered at the university medical centre, they become ‘guests’ at your own surgery. If they need an appointment during visits home you need to fill out a form to allow them to be seen. (This will require their uni address and surgery which I never knew off by heart). It is easy to do but came as a bit of a shock to me.

2. Student Banking

Open a ‘student’ bank account. They are much easier to use and are much more suited to their needs.

3. Make friends before you get there

I am sure your child will already know this but social media is a great place to make contact with other students in their halls or on their course before they go. It really helps if they have at least one contact to talk to on arrival.

4. Don’t take the kitchen sink!

Don’t take too much. Especially kitchen stuff. Basic equipment is fine as everyone is doing the same and the fridge is always filled very quickly. It is more helpful to supply them with stocks of expensive things like shampoo and conditioner, shower gels, tampons, cleaning bits, laptop, spare chargers (and keep another one at home so they don’t have to bring theirs back, then leave it every time!), spare ear phones, stationery, umbrella (as they will need to walk to the bus or to lectures), anything they might need more of further down the line but that costs. Food they can manage.

Above all and the one thing I didn’t realise is they are better at looking after themselves than you think. I was genuinely shocked. Remember they have shops where they are going and if they forget anything you can plan a trip to see them, which is always a bonus!