Preparing for University – A Guide for Parents

Your child is heading to university, a whole new world which comes with a whole new host of emotions too. The excitement as you and your child look at different universities and courses on offer. The anxiety and pressure of supporting your child through coursework deadlines, exam preparation and of course the countdown towards A-levels results day. Then comes the sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new terminology, rules and timeline that studying at university brings for your child. To help you navigate the path between planning to heading to university to move-in day, here are some tips that have been collated from parents who have been there, done that and got the parental t-shirt to prove it. 

How to find student accommodation?

The short answer is to look for student accommodation sooner rather than later, especially as some university cities are more popular than others so availability can decrease or even sell out before A level results day. The types of student accommodation on offer are university halls, private landlords and what is known as Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA). PBSAs typically offer a wider range of properties in university cities, plus the added benefit of getting to choose your ideal fit from a wider price range. Student accommodation tends to include internet/WiFi, on-site gym and study space to help your child settle in whilst at university. The first step is taking a look at student accommodation options online, creating a shortlist based on facilities, and then booking viewings for the shortlist so you can get a feel of the properties. If viewings are impossible to do this year because of the coronavirus, you might want to contact an accommodation provider that can give you as much help and information on the properties as possible. Student.com has a team of dedicated booking consultants who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

A girl living in student accommodation

University packing list: what to take to uni 

It’s natural to want to make sure your child is comfortable, safe and has everything they might need at university. However, more often than not many student accommodation properties include move-in bundles (sometimes called university starter packs) as part of their packages. This may include anything from pots and pans to bedding. When preparing for university, maybe sit down with your child and work out a uni essentials list of both practical and comfort items. Practical items will help make their room and kitchen space functional – such as laptop, printer, pots and pans. Comfort items are there to make them feel at home, so a photo montage of family and friends, soft furnishings such as blankets and cushions. Don’t forget that smaller touches, such as pot plants, can make a big difference to feeling at home in the first few weeks in a new place away from home.

A son is packing his belongings and leaving for university

What is expected on move-in day?

Move-in day is an experience. More often than not a rollercoaster of emotions, coupled with long hours in the car travelling across the country. It’s such an exciting time and often the mixture of emotions and anticipation can be quite overwhelming. Most universities organise a whole weekend for move-in days, hosting different welcome events for parents and students, and of course just student-led mixers. The first thing to look at is what the university is offering over the weekend, so you can decide if it’s just a day trip or whether it’s best to stay overnight. If the latter, booking a hotel in advance is key – as you won’t be the only parent helping their child move in! Most student accommodation properties will have a team of helpers to make carrying the heavier items a little easier.

There you have it, it seems quite simple when you put it like that, although it doesn’t factor in all the emotions that come with preparing for university. Knowledge is power, so take some time to read up on types of student accommodation, ask advice from recent students of what they actually needed at university and plan ahead for move-in day. That way you and your child will feel prepared for the exciting university journey ahead.