One of the biggest challenges that your child may face as a new university student is discovering they are solely responsible for their own learning – there won’t be any teachers worrying if they miss a class or a professor calling you if they don’t complete an assessment task. University life requires maturity – students are expected to manage their time, their expenses and any challenges they might face.
This sudden burst of independence can be exciting, but it’s high risk for students who are still trying to adapt to this new found (almost) adulthood. Transitioning from high school to university can be tough even for the best students, so rather than focusing on ‘having fun’ for the rest of summer, encourage your child to make the most out of their break by balancing their fun with preparation for added responsibilities.
Seek out a young “mentor”
Most parents know at least one friend or family member with a child who has already started university or recently finished their course. Ask that student to share parts of their university experience with your child – even better if they go to the same university. Encourage your child to ask questions about anything and everything, not just coursework. This will give them an idea of the distractions and obstacles they may face while studying their degree.
Research, research, research
It is very important for your child to research job prospects before embarking on a degree; it’s all part of understanding what they are committing themselves to. A job within that industry is the ideal return on investment for spending three or more years at university.
Once they have looked into and discussed the possible job prospects, encourage your child to research the course itself. What classes will they have to take? How do other students rate them – relatively easy (or hard)? What are your child’s strengths and which subjects do they think will require a bit more time to grasp? How heavy is the semester workload – will they be able to handle a part-time job in addition to study? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask them.
Teach them those life skills they won’t learn in the classroom
There are some things that won’t be taught at university, but will help your child manage university life better. Here are a few examples.
Share a few easy recipes with them – a cheap home-made meal always tastes better than a cup of instant noodles.
As a parent, you’ve always been in charge of your son or daughter’s health. You scheduled their dental and medical check-ups, and took them to the doctor when they had a fever. University can be stressful, and students sometimes put their health on the back shelf. Encourage them to be proactive with their health and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Don’t forget that universities offer a range of services to help students maintain this balance, from medical services to sports and recreation activities and facilities.
Regardless of your financial situation, it is essential to familiarise your child with managing their money. If you will be giving them money, communicate how frequently they will receive any allowance and then encourage them to decide if a part-time job is necessary. Take them through the easy budget planner at moneysmart.gov.au so they can learn how to budget.
Don’t miss out on Orientation Week
O-week is a rite of passage for university students and it’s a time for them to learn more about university services, societies and clubs they can access. Encourage your child to really dive deep into the university way of life and start making friends. O-week isn’t just about campus parties it’s also about asking questions and learning where you can go for support.
What if university sounds too daunting?
If your child does find university overwhelming, encourage them to speak to their student centre or course coordinator before they drop out of university. Starting university straight after high school isn’t for everyone, often gaining work experience or completing a pathway program makes the transition easier. Pathways such as our diploma programs give students the extra learning support, class sizes of no more than 20 students and the transition time they need to adjust to studying at university. Universities also give course credit to students who have completed pathway programs, giving them recognition for subjects completed.
The Carousel thanks Sebastian Zagarella, Head of Student Services at UTS:INSEARCH for this article