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How to survive the first month at university: a guide for parents and students

By Money Matters Team

Some handy tips for students entering into their first year at university, and their parents.

When your son or daughter leaves for university, it’s a big change – they’re launched into freshers’ week and you’re left adjusting to a quieter life in their absence. It can be a daunting experience for everyone involved, but it’s also an exciting one, if you each follow three simple tips…

Three helpful tips for parents

  • Some freshers will contact their parents regularly and may find it hard to adjust, while others will take to uni like a duck to water and you’ll be left wondering where and how they are. Try not to call too much – agree a means of communication, be it text, email or phone call, and to a minimum once weekly ‘check-in’. That way you’ll worry less, but won’t cramp their style. See our student-parent text interpreter for a light-hearted take on keeping in touch.
  • You’re bound to feel your son or daughter's absence acutely in the first few months they’re at university. But try to take advantage of your newfound freedom – if you have other children at home, make time for them – they’ll also be feeling their sibling’s absence. If you’re officially an empty-nester, try going on a mini-break during term time – it’s likely to be the first chance you've had in years to take advantage of flights and hotel bills that are often considerably cheaper outside the school holidays.
  • Try to resist visiting too soon – give them time to settle in properly. When you do visit, take the opportunity to get to know their new area. Make a weekend of exploring the region then pop by and take your son or daughter to lunch one day. You’ll see they’re ok and familiarise yourself with the place they’ll be living in for the next few years.

Three helpful tips for freshers

  • Even if you think you don't need the money, try to get a part time job in the student union bar on day one (by the end of freshers’ week most job opportunities will have been taken). You'll get to know people from all over the university, rarely have to pay for your own drinks and will hear all the gossip on campus. You’ll also be glad of the extra money towards the end of the first term.
  • However reliable your smartphone is, print off a map of the campus and keep it in your pocket. It’ll be annotated with more information on building names and student services than Google Maps, won’t ever run out of battery and will help you get to grips with the campus layout quickly. You’ll also make friends fast if you’re the one who knows where to go.
  • Yes, it sounds like something your parents nag you about, but make sure you sign up to the university medical centre or a local doctor. However hard you try, you won’t escape freshers’ flu – and you’ll be eternally grateful that you bothered to register already.

This Money Matters post aims to be informative and engaging. Though it may include tips and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as a basis for any financial decisions. CAPSavings accepts no responsibility for the opinions and views of external contributors and the content of external websites included within this post. Some links may take you to another CAPSavings page. All information in this post was correct at date of publication.

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