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What one piece would you give to parents of 2020 freshers(57 Posts)
Whilst it's fresh in everyone's mind, having just dropped our DC at their chosen unis, what advice would you give parents who are now starting the process?
I thought it might be useful to have a thread of handy tips to carry on the fabulous support I've enjoyed on here this year.
Vacuum bags! This was the one thing I did differently for DC3 compared to the other two!
It's not necessary to buy everything but the kitchen sink for them to take!
Pre getting in: scrutinise the exam exemplars and learn how to give the examiners what they want.
Post getting in: a door wedge so you can say hi to your flat mates as they pass.
Also with UCAS applications, do have your insurance as entirely achievable and firm as aspirational to cover A Level outcomes. And put 100% effort into coursework for those few subjects that still require it (DS missed out on two As by a couple of marks because he let himself down on his coursework).
Don't bug them about coming home. Or visit too much.
In the past I've seen threads where posters are saying, "Well, dd will be coming home in two weeks for my birthday," and "We're going to see ds next week and then two weeks after that and then he's coming home for the cat's injections..."
Even if they feel a little bit homesick at first, it is important that they get stuck in . If the habit starts of schlepping home every weekend, then their experience will be lesser.
As someone living next door to a houseful of young students, teach them to be considerate neighbours . They hold loud parties on Monday nights. Leave trash everywhere. Don't recycle and leave overflowing bins blocking our walkway. Last week, I went out to weed the garden and there were actual maggots crawling around on the ground surrounding their bin. They're also collecting trolleys from all the local supermarkets in their front garden. The whole place looks like a shit tip.
Last year's students were absolutely lovely, reasonably quiet during the week and didn't strew trash about the place. Sadly in the last five years, they've been the anomaly.
Fix a regular time to chat for longer once a week eg Sunday evening. Doesn't mean that's the only time you can speak but but it means there's a time they can easily let you know if they're having a hard time (hopefully not), keep it going through the good times but it might be invaluable if they have a wobble.
Always make sure they have a good backpack.
I would mainly advise benign neglect. Don't cook every single meal or do all their washing in sixth form. I don't make weekend or holiday lunches any more and our kids have become better and better cooks as the novelty of toasties wore off.
If you don't have an IKEA some supermarkets stock up with cheap Freshers' kitchen things.
Collapsible crates are great.
Make sure your teen has a chance of getting university accommodation if they miss their firm - see Bristol fiasco with students being accommodated in Wales.
Pre getting in: I would advise visiting all unis that your DC is considering. They all have their own feel/vibe and if your child doesn't visit before pressing the final button on ucas they won't know whether they'll feel at home there for three years.
Post getting in: write a comprehensive list of everything you think they'll need for halls and start shopping early. It helps to spread the cost and avoids the 'like Xmas at Tesco' situation when everyone is trying to buy the same things at the last minute.
Also I would encourage your DC to join and actively participate in the group chats set up for their flat or hall. My DD has been was speaking with 9 of the 12 people in her flat prior to moving in this weekend and when they finally met in real life it all felt very natural. They've been out as a group for the past two nights and I think it's really helped her settle and have the confidence to go out. The other fresher in their flat who didn't engage and therefore arrived much later than everyone else (they all arranged to arrive for 10am) hasn't come out of their room or joined in, despite their invitations, and I worry for her. Though of course she may just be very happy with her own company.
Don’t assume there will be storage or a shelf in an ensuite bathroom, some have nothing.
Don’t get too hung up on getting your first choice accommodation, they will be fine in the not so posh/new halls.
If you go into clearing you may not get much choice re accommodation, some people find this stressful.
If you accept an unconditional place you are likely to get your first/second choice accommodation.
You may not get on with your flat mates, but you may make friends with people on your course, or with people in clubs/society’s, hopefully you will make friends in all 3.
Pre getting in: I would advise visiting all unis that your DC is considering
Unless you like burning ££££ of petrol I would not suggest this. Perhaps makes some nice weekends away but this feeds into the idea that you have to do this and you are failing your dcs otherwise.
Also it is not necessary to be in the group chats or die a terrible social death. If you are a friendly person (or even a not very friendly person!) you will find a tribe and it's not all about knowing people and getting as bladdered as possible in freshers' week.
Ikea bags are fab for moving in day, can carry one on each shoulder if needed, we only had 20 mins to empty car as parking at a premium.
Mattress topper can be really good for a crappy bed but do not wait till moving in day to buy.
Do NOT go to either IKEA or WILKOS on moving in day in the university city they are like a place from hell and stocks of all sorts of random but useful things run low.
We forgot drawing pins this time (DD2) for the noticeboard hence the Wilkos visit and with DD1 it was a last minute ikea trip.
I hope it's ok to comment having taught a lot of students (my DD is nowhere near university age). Something I think people (students and their parents) often don't realise is how different university is from school, in terms of how and when parents might get information. Especially when it comes to issues such as health or academic struggles.
Universities, in general, cannot contact parents without very explicit permission from a student. This still holds if, eg., the student has failed all their exams and dropped out or is having a mental health crisis. The reason is that students are legally adults, and we have to protect their privacy. It sometimes strikes people as obvious we ought to get in touch with a parent if a student is really struggling, but we've got to think of the (rare, but dangerous) situation where a student might be estranged from their parents, or might be put in danger if we gave out information about them to their parents.
Some students don't realise this, either - it can get quite fraught. So, I would say, have strategies for making sure a student knows what to do if things start going wrong, and discuss this with them.
@IrmaFayLear I'm sorry you feel so strongly opposed to my suggestions. I set up the thread as a helpful and supportive place for people to post their top tips but obviously they are individual opinions based on personal experiences. I'm not saying you have to do the things i suggested or else be considered a failure. My DD and some of friends had particular unis on their initial shortlist but having visited them had a change of opinion, that's the point I was trying to make.
Rather than criticise others perhaps you may like to suggest your own advice ?
juicy0. I agree that a visit is important, if possible. My DC1 chose their university not only on course but vibe of the city. I don't think people realise that individual cities can be so different. Obviously it's sometimes not affordable or possible, bit it is ideal to visit.
It's the one thing I thought of but dismissed. DD's accommodation is brilliant but the mattress is awful.
We used large laundry bags to pack (along with vacuum bags), they can be folded up and stuck in the suitcase until it's time to pack it up again at the end of the year.
I agree with visiting if possible. One uni that my son really liked the look of the course and year abroad option, but he really didn't like the place. He wanted to like it and actually visited again just to be sure, but that just confirmed his initial dislike of it.
I agree Serin
I also think it is important to visit universities first. To my mind it is similar to looking for a house to buy - you can write a list of your requirements, you can look on-line, but there is definitely something about the "feel" of a house when you walk in, and I've found the same with all 3 of my dc when looking at Universities - some just become 'the one' for reasons they can' always put their finger on. Youngest hasn't gone yet, but dcs1 and 2 both incredibly happy at their universities.
Actually make sure the accomodation they do apply and accept is actually what they want and the same as the pictures. My dd wanted quiet living which is what she has however there is no where for them to gather, the kitchen has no table. They do have a evening meal provided but thats only Mon-Fri. I have said once they start lectures she will be pleased there is no group meeting and making a noise but at the moment its not the best.
Also never assume about storage as somebody else said some have shelves/cupboard in the bathroom some don't. My dd has shelves in her room but they are set so high only the bottom one can be used.
I agree about the group chat, it helped DD enormously as she felt she 'knew' some of her flatmates before she arrived so the ice was broken.
It helps to visit beforehand - they are then able to go on the 'feel' of the place, not just it's pros and cons online or in the blurb they send out. DD visited about 4 and it was the last one that she really walked away from feeling that she could see herself there, it was a good fit.
my dd had a group chat and again that was great as she did know some of her flat mates before getting there.