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5 Things Parents of First Years Need to Know

by Janine Basel

Letting go when your child starts university is quite an emotional step for many parents. Janine Basel shares what she learnt when her first child went to university – something that is worth passing on to you! It may seem obvious, but it still needs to be told!

University isn’t only a big step for the child going, it’s also a big step and adjustment for the parents whose child is going off to university. If it’s your first child, it’s even scarier. For a lot of people going to university, they’re the first ones in their family to have made it to university. Which means you have no clue what this journey will entail. Here are a few things you should know before your child starts university.

1. Where’s the Money, Honey!

While the cost of university is always on our minds, the first thing you should know is that you will not have to pay the full amount the first day your child registers at university. Whew! You normally have a certain amount that needs to be paid on or before registration (differs quite substantially from institution to institution.)

You need to pay the balance of 50% around the end of March/April, and the final balance of 50% around end of June/July before the second semester. Once again, exact dates depend on the institution.

So that’s good news! Call me naive, but I presumed the full amount would have to be paid first day of varsity and so this was very surprising to me.

2. Stay up to scratch

You need to know that your child will not receive their results unless you are up to date with the institution’s accounts department.  Don’t moan. That’s the deal when you enter into a contract with the university to educate your child. You need to pay, otherwise your child won’t receive their academic results! Go ahead and phone the institution to find out about your account – rather be safe than sorry.

3. The marks aren’t yours

When your child goes off to university, he or she will get the exam results on the institution’s internal system – not YOU.  You may be able to discuss with the institution that you also get the results, but remember that the whole aim as a parent, is to raise responsible and independent young adults.  Let go of this reign, and let the horse bolt. This forces you to keep the communication channels open.

4. Culture Shock

You may have sheltered your child so much throughout the years that her or she isn’t prepared for the range of differences (not only between races, but also between individuals in general) they are about to experience. It can be a shock. Many children are not emotionally prepared, but now isn’t the time to jump in and ‘save’ your child from a room-mate that comes home late, throwing up each night, or a range of other activities in the shared dorm room that may make your child feel uncomfortable!

You are there to help your children pick their way through this minefield and to provide the tools they need to deal with it in an adult manner. Foster resilience by allowing your child to deal with this in their own way and own time, with only your guidance.

If you want to read more about culture shock and how your child can deal with it, read this article.

5. A Step into Adulthood

I wish I had known that this was the time to give my child a letter regarding what my husband and I thought were important in his future. Of course, we all sit down and encourage our children to work hard, but in fact we are so education-oriented, that we forget that this is actually their first real tangible step into adulthood.

Your child will now go out with a bunch of mates, or more likely, are so busy with their studies, and so it’s easy to let that all-important step into adulthood slide by. Start off their university career with a small celebration where you let them know how proud you are of the adult they have become and are going to grow into at university.

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Give yourself a pat on the back for getting your child to this point, and know that, like childbirth, you and your child are not the first ones to go this route, and you will all survive to tell the tale! If you need more tips or advice then read this article on 5 need-to-knows before your child finishes grade 12.

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