Preparing for College and University – A Parent’s Guide

So here we are in August and autumn is upon us.  Try as we might to hold on to that summer feeling, August means Leaving Cert results, CAO offers and, for many families, the big leap into college and university.

Going into third level education can be daunting for students and their parents. The best way to beat overwhelm is to be prepared in advance. So here are a few helpful hints to get your student ready for college.

learn to cook for collegeEat Properly

This may be the first time that your child has to really feed him or herself. A friend of mine admitted to me, full of guilt, that her son did not use a fork for the first 6 weeks of college. He just kept buying rolls in the cafeteria. She was mortified that she had allowed him off to college without teaching him a few basic recipes so that he could eat properly. Now she is a fantastic mum. One of the best, but it was because she is so good at looking after him, cooking really nutritious dinners and making sure that everything went smoothly at home to enable him to study for his exams that she forgot to look ahead and plan for when he would be responsible for himself.

They say that an army marches on its stomach, well a student studies on theirs. Teach them how to cook. Find great, easy, nutritious recipes on You Tube and have your college student subscribe to them. That way they can see how it’s done, rather than calling you!

Stay Calm

If you get all het up about your child going to university or college, they will pick up on your anxiety and become worried or anxious themselves.  You need to be their rock. They are young adults and need you to treat them as such but they also need your parental guidance. This can be a bit of a tightrope, with parents asking when do I let them be and when do I step in as the parent?

This is one you are going to have to figure out for yourself because every child is different. Remember, it is ok to make mistakes. If you are feeling anxious, then fake confidence. You have to outwardly be as graceful as a swan, while inwardly you may be paddling like hell! Remember, you are not the first parent to feel like this so reach out to others and learn from them.

Make Lists

This is a lifesaver if your child is moving away to college (and most of them want to!).  They are going to need a lot of stuff but you don’t need to buy everything new. Make a list and see what you have at home already.  For example, bring their own pillow from their own bed. They will sleep better with it.

Here are the list sub-headings that will cover everything:

  • Medications
  • Study / Desk Supplies
  • Electronics ( Laptops, phones, chargers etc)
  • Bedroom
  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Clothes
  • Misc
  • Shopping (yes, make out a shopping master list for them, so that they remember the necessities)

Money matters in collegeBudget

University and college fees are one thing, but day to day living expenses really add up.  Agree on a weekly or monthly budget in advance and stick to it. Having taught them some recipes, take them shopping for the ingredients. You have created your shopping master list so they know what they need to have. Your student needs to understand how to budget to ensure that they eat well, have travel costs covered and most importantly (to them) going out money.

Do a dry run. Make out a full shopping list and have them go to a number of different supermarkets. Without buying anything, add up the cost of all the items in their virtual basket. This will encourage them to shop around, after all, the more value they can get in their grocery shopping, the more going out money they will have!

One Last Thing

One last thing – no advances! If the money runs out, they have to manage until ‘payday’. It may seem harsh, but they will survive. Lesson learned, they will budget better from there on in. Oh, and introduce them to the washing machine – you have enough to do at the weekend, without their bags of laundry too.

Study Success™

College and university life is a wonderful experience, one which will help shape their future. At Hummingbird Learning Centre many students find that our Study Success™ workshops and mini-courses, help them to manage their course work more easily.

For information on Study Success™ and all of our other programs, contact me on or 087-2996054

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