University presents learners with a range of challenges whether they will be moving out or staying at home, so prepare well ahead of time to avoid any nasty surprises!
When living in residence or off-campus accommodation
Living away from home can be nerve-racking for even the most adventurous of learners. Here are some tips on how to prepare for living away from home:
- If the student accommodation doesn’t provide food, learners should learn how to cook easy, nutritious meals if they don’t know how to do so already. Also, very rarely does student accommodation offer laundry service, so learners should make sure they know how to do their own laundry if they’ll be doing it for the first time.
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- Ensure the accommodation has a working internet connection. While Wi-Fi is widely available on campus and most campuses have 24/7 libraries, having internet access at ‘home’ will make completing your studies a lot easier.
- Learners should try to get to their new home well ahead of time to familiarise themselves with the surroundings, particularly places like grocery stores and bookstores. Also find a local GP and hospital – if there is an emergency, better to be safe than sorry (and invest in a first aid kit)! Arriving early will also give learners time to buy any things they may need, like cutlery, crockery, and so on.
- If the student accommodation is shared, learners should set boundaries with their new roommate(s) regarding socialising hours, cleaning up, quiet time, and so forth. Also, invest in a pair of shower slippers as communal showers are often a breeding ground for nasty fungal infections.
- Make a list of things to pack, and tick them off as you pack. Most critical will be paperwork, legal documentation, and a bank card. If necessary, learners should ensure they have all the necessary medication they need and make sure they have a new prescription ready for when refills run out.
When living at home
Living at home as a varsity student might be even more challenging than living away from home for the first time. Here are some tips on how to survive:
- Join societies to help make friends. If a learner is not living in student accommodation, it will inevitably be more difficult to socialise and meet new people. University sports and cultural clubs are a great way to socialise with fellow students outside of lecture halls.
- Learners and their family members absolutely must set boundaries well ahead of time. These boundaries include:
- Leisure time: it is vital to give learners some time to rest when they have come home after a long day of lectures. Don’t harass them as soon as they set foot in the door, they’re tired and need rest. Decide on agreeable ‘relaxation time’.
- Socialising: agree on rules like curfew, staying over at friends’ houses, keeping in contact with parents while out on the town, and so forth.
- Attending lectures and tutorials: while not ideal, often students will need to skip one or two to study for a test or complete an assignment. Start managing expectations surrounding class attendance ahead of time.
These boundaries must be seen as compromises rather than forced stipulations. Your child is an adult now – treat them as such.
- Keep the lines of communication open and have regular open and honest conversations. Learners need to know that they can count on their parents if something goes wrong, whether academically or in their personal lives. Making mistakes is a part of growing up, and if your child is staying at home for the duration of their studies, you are on this journey with them.
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Irrespective of whether a learner will be living at home or not, there are some general guidelines to prepare learners:
- Take a tour of the campus and make notes of where different buildings are – this will make navigating them easier when lectures begin.
- Have a look at the orientation week programme as soon as you receive it. Choose which events you would like to attend, or which you think will be helpful. Participating in ‘O-week’ is a fantastic way to get to know the campus and new people.
- Purchase your learning material as soon as you get your book list and get stuck into the recommended reading before lectures even start. University involves a lot of self-studying, and often, having done the reading ahead of time is a prerequisite for attending the class, so get into the habit now.
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Varsity is often a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students. With the parents’ help, support, and guidance, these can be some of the best years of a learner’s life!
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