Friday 21 July 2023

How Prepared is your Child for their Move to University?

Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

{This post is a collaboration with BBC TVL, but all thoughts and experiences are my own}

Isn't it funny how the same day can be both one of the best and also one of the saddest days of your life? It really is bittersweet sometimes and I'm trying hard to remain optimistic and focus on the good things but equally, I know I need to acknowledge my grief, and that might sound over the top but that is what it is for me. I am mourning the end of an era. This summer my near-19-year-old JJ headed off to the University of Bristol to read Maths. 

He's worked hard to go there and he certainly deserves to be there after achieving four A* results in his A Levels but I'm going to miss him so much. I adore my firstborn, we have always had such fun together and now he is 175 miles away, so I'll probably only see him a few times a year. What a contrast this will be to the daily time we have spent together for the last nineteen years.  

I got him to make me a playlist for the car, so I can feel as if he is still sitting next to me on our shared journey to work for me and college for him, but I'll miss his baritone tunes. I suspect Imagine Dragons will feature strongly in my car journeys for a while as I try to remain close to him. But that's enough Mich, I don't want to be downcast, I need to look on the bright side. Parents are here to raise their children to be independent and to go off and live their best lives whilst being good citizens and remembering the greater good. I don't think my husband and I have done too badly at all with JJ. We are both very proud of him and all he has achieved so far.

He's certainly been thorough with his preparation for the big move and had a uni checklist in play from early on, which was reassuring to me. In fact, it was as if a switch had been flipped about a year ago, he downloaded an app (todoist) to help him stay on track and know what tasks needed doing and when. I laughed at him at first as he was very specific with what he added, down to remembering to brush his teeth and put on deodorant, but it turned out to be a great way to establish some really useful and healthy habits. He now remembers to take a brisk walk each day and to change his bed once a week, without any prompting from me!

Some of his preparation was to do advance reading before he got to university and he even had some online tutoring over the summer to help him with topics that he had either yet to encounter, or he had struggled a little with. It's very easy to find a suitable tutor for all levels of study by looking on Tutor Hunt.

Like many mums, a year ago I wondered how his room would look once he headed to uni, as I was still picking his washing off the floor and nagging him to tidy up, but now as we both took the TV Licensing family quiz, I felt quite smug that he'd know the answers and I'd done my job right and prepared him to leave home and live independently.

It was tick, tick, tick as he confirmed he should wash his sheets and towels once a week, store raw meat on the lowest shelf in the fridge to avoid cross-contamination and that he should start to think about his year two accommodation around Christmas. He wasn't so sure how much a wash at the launderette would cost or that he'd need to check what day the bins get collected and honestly, he was clueless about the need for a TV licence.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

It was a good exercise going through the quiz as it helped us both to know some key points around TV licensing, and I'll share these with you as you might have teens heading off to uni too -

  • Students in halls need to be covered by a TV Licence to watch or record programmes as they’re being shown on TV or streamed live on an online TV service. And that’s not just the BBC; it’s all channels on any platform and on any device. They also need to be covered to watch BBC iPlayer.
  • The biggest benefit for students who buy a licence for the year is that when they go home at the end of the academic year, they can claim a refund on any months they didn't use their TV Licence, as often they live in their student accommodation for less than 12 months.

I did enjoy doing this quiz with JJ as it gave me another opportunity to spend a bit of time with him over a coffee and reminded me that we are pretty in tune and I know him quite well. Long may that continue! The next part of the quiz was for both of us to answer the same three questions independently and then compare answers. We chose -

1. How long do you spend watching TV shows in a week (in hours)?

His answer was a maximum of an hour and my answer was none. JJ isn't a big TV watcher; you are much more likely to find him on Discord chatting to his mates or playing games online.

2. What is your best money-saving tip?

His answer was to look for vouchers online for discounts and to shop around. My answer was the same, never pay full price for anything if you can, so I'm pretty sure he has learned his thriftiness from me, as I'm constantly asking him for student discount codes when shopping online.

3. If you had a 9am lecture, what time would you go to sleep the night before?

His answer was midnight or maybe 1am and I said midnight as he normally tries to get about 8 hours of sleep a night. I personally wonder if this might go out the window for the first few months of uni as he finds his feet and enjoys the freedom of living in a city and not being stranded in the country without a car any longer!

I could have asked him how many times a week he intends to call home but I know that realistically I'm far more likely to get a Discord message from him if I initiate it. But he could surprise me and become a big telephone chatter, who knows! I can live in hope...

What I do know is that I am super proud of him and so excited for this next stage of his life. He deserves to do well and enjoy himself and I don't doubt I'll need to step in every once in a while, to ground him and remind him of what is really important, but that's my job as a mum!

If you have a child heading off to university like well, I wish you and them all the very best. Mich x

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