September dawns, and those school-children who were opening their A-level results just a few weeks ago are starting to head off to university. For parents watching on as their children prepare to set off, wondering how they’ll cope, these are the basics we think any university Fresher should have under their belt. Spend a little time teaching them now, and hopefully you’ll avoid the phone call saying they’ve got food poisoning from not cooking chicken properly in their fajitas. Here are five university life tips to pass on to your children:
How to make a healthy meal
Make healthy eating easier for your children by teaching them how to make a decent meal that will keep them going through the studying and partying that make up university life. Simple, cheap meals such as omelettes, chilli con carne and spaghetti bolognese go down a treat, especially when you can eat the remainders with a jacket potato for lunch the next day. The BBC’s Good Food website has some great suggestions here: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/student. You should also stress the importance of cooking meat thoroughly (especially chicken!) and could give some rough timings for how long different food takes to cook.
How to budget
An essential skill! Once their student loan comes into their bank account, many young adults will never have seen such a large number on the screen of an ATM before, and it can be all too tempting to spend just a little more than planned in Fresher’s Week… Sit down and work out how much they should be aiming to spend each week, to help them manage the termly lump sums. Help them create a spreadsheet to keep track of their outgoings and ensure they can always pay the bills. Remind them that they might not be able to spend so much on downloading music and clothes now, and should prioritise food, soap, shampoo, toothpaste, and maybe even new textbooks… (If all else fails, Waterstones run a handy top-up card system to ensure your little angels are spending your money on books instead of booze!)
How to work a washing machine
Lots of students know how to work the washing machine at home simply because they know to twist the dial on the left and push the button on the right, but confront them with a different model and they’re dumbfounded. Quickly explain what the different settings are for and what type of washing detergent you would recommend using. This helps them know what they’re looking for when they’re wandering the aisles of Tesco aimlessly, with mountains of different products soaring above their head! It often costs more to use a tumble dryer, so pack your child off with an airer to help save a few pounds.
It also helps if they know how to separate their colours from their darks to avoid any fashion disasters!
How to clean a toilet (yes, seriously!)
It’s amazing how many young people leave home without knowing this (or at least who “forget” the moment they leave their front door). Make sure your children know how to clean a toilet thoroughly to ensure good hygiene in their student accommodation (even if they are lucky enough to have a cleaner in their student halls – you can bet they’ll need to do it themselves at some point in the year!)
It’s worth stacking them up with a small stock of basic cleaning equipment before they go to make this less desirable task easier for them at first. And whilst we’re on the subject, remind your sons that putting the toilet seat down will earn them lots of brownie points from any girls living on their corridor, whilst leaving it up will not go down well. Fact.
And most importantly, how to relax
Going to university is such a big epoch in young people’s lives that it can be difficult to take time out to relax from the chaos of packing and preparation. Remind your children that you need to stop frequently and have some time to yourself. Reassure them that you’re not expecting them to be working 24/7 and that a huge part of university is making friends and trying out new activities for the first time. Spend some time discussing the different societies and opportunities on offer at your child’s university, and encourage them to join whatever takes their fancy at Freshers’ Week. It’s by joining the Girls’ Cricket Team and the Poetry Writers’ Society that we meet like-minded people in the world – and you never know who you might meet at university…
Written by Laura Clash
A MyTutor Latin Tutor