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Practical advice for getting ds off to uni
42

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat · 08/02/2022 15:01

DS is off to uni in September and it's starting to become real! He knows where he's going so we are just getting halls and finance organised. Neither DH or I went, nor did our parents so we are approaching this a bit blindly.

Do you have any practical advice? Things he'll need, what not to take, how do you manage food budgets etc

Money is a little tight so we are trying to be as organised as possible though cautious not to make costly mistakes.

Many thanks.

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MissConductUS · 08/02/2022 15:19

The websites for both of my kids uni's had sections for incoming students, talking about what to bring. A few tips from my own experience:

  • don't overpack. If he's coming home sometime during the fall he can pick up his winter clothing then.
  • have his banking setup. Make sure you have an easy way for him to pay for books, laundry, incidental expenses, etc. He may also want to set up a student Amazon account. They get Prime for free, at least in the US and it's really handy if he needs small items that he can wait a day or two for.
  • Schedule a weekly zoom or facetime call with him. We do ours on Sundays before dinner.
  • Send him packages with goodies.

    There's loads of advice online:

    www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=resources+sending+kids+to+college+first+time

    Good luck. My son is graduating this spring and my daughter still has two years to go.
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Fordian · 08/02/2022 15:21

There's also an active FB page called WIWIKAU (what I wish I knew about uni)

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CornflakeMum · 08/02/2022 15:32

You're being well organised about this, so it may be that fellow parents of 2022 freshers won't be chatting much before the summer.

This sort of question crops up every year on mumsnet though, so a quick search of the archives will give you lots of answers!

Generally don't worry too much about buying lots of new stuff - let him take stuff from home that you don't mind being lost/ damaged or washed with red socks. DS liked having his 'home' duvet cover and familiar plates and pans!

Both the university he's going to and UCAS have lots of useful advice!

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NoNotHimTheOtherOne · 08/02/2022 15:49

Number 1 tip from getting my youngest off to university in 2020: find out what kind of hob they have in their kitchen. I only found out on the day we went shopping that they had induction hobs and needed pans that work with these.

Sometimes students connect on social media before going, and they might agree to divide up purchases of kitchen equipment so they don't end up with 8 frying pans and nowhere to store them. For this kind of reason, it might be worth avoiding buying stuff too early but rather choosing to put a little bit of money aside each month so you can buy most of the stuff they need at pretty much the last minute.

I know you said he knows where he's going, but is this an unconditional offer? If not, you do have to make some allowance for the possibility he won't get the required grades and might end up at his insurance choice or getting a place somewhere else through Clearing. You don't want to get him fully equipped for one set of halls at one university and then find he's going to a different one.

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Bunce1 · 08/02/2022 15:52

Fairy lights/LED lights for ambiance
Door stop to keep door open for optimum friend making
Flip flops for the shower
Toaster bags for the shared toaster
Ear plugs
Basic first aid/hangover kit

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RampantIvy · 08/02/2022 16:14

The worries I read on WIWIKAU from parents are usually:

  1. Will they make friends? - a good ice breaker is to take some home baking/chocolates/bottle of something to share when they move into the flat
  2. Their child can't cook - so make sure your DS can cook. I'm amazed at the number of parents who don't encourage or teach their children to cook
  3. Teach them to tidy up after themselves in the kitchen. The messy ones really do piss the others off
  4. Make sure he knows how to use a washing machine
  5. Vacuum bags are a game changer for packing clothes and bedding
  6. If they are on regular medication make sure they register with a local GP during their first week
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PermanentTemporary · 08/02/2022 16:20

Another vote for registering with GP and dentist.

If he's in a student house, there are people who go round and turn over those houses every October to collect a nice new bunch of laptops and bikes. Lock everything, mark possessions and register them, and make sure he has contents insurance (may not need a new policy- ds's will be covered under the university policy).

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RampantIvy · 08/02/2022 16:43

I'm not sure about a dentist. Getting registered with an NHS dentist is very diffcult where we live, and if DD registered with one at university she wouldn't be able to reregister at home. She can still have her check ups during the holidays.

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GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat · 08/02/2022 17:36

Thank you all, koysbof things I hadn't thought of, like the Dr. Is this easy? I thought surgeries were all over subscribed.

Dentist he can just visit when he's back home, we always go in school hols now anyway.

Great idea about taking less to start with and he can always buy bits he finds he needs.

The social side- I'm not too worried about him making friends, he's always found his group even if it takes a bit longer as he is on the quieter side.

He does have an unconditional offer and this comes with first choice of accommodation. I think this is adding to my early panic about getting him ready rather than just going with the flow.

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MarchingFrogs · 08/02/2022 17:45

@Bunce1

Fairy lights/LED lights for ambiance
Door stop to keep door open for optimum friend making
Flip flops for the shower
Toaster bags for the shared toaster
Ear plugs
Basic first aid/hangover kit

Just a word of warning that the fairy lights should be the battery-opetated sort. Mains-powered ones are regarded as such a fire risk by many university accommodation offices that they get a specific mention near the top of the 'what not to bring' listShock.
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CrimbleCrumble1 · 08/02/2022 17:47

A key ring for keys for their accommodation.
Lots of coat hangers.

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Chasingsquirrels · 08/02/2022 17:48

Get HIM to look into it and research what he needs, even if you are funding it.

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thesandwich · 08/02/2022 17:56

Get him used to going food shopping! Uni towns are rammed in freshers weeks with groups of bewildered students wandering around supermarkets. Will help him make friends

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Cookerhood · 08/02/2022 18:06

@CrimbleCrumble1

A key ring for keys for their accommodation.
Lots of coat hangers.

Mostly keycards now in halls (all 3 of mine had cards).
Agree about the pans, by chance DS had some that were ok. Also agree about small appliances - DS2 wasn't provided with a toaster or kettle but you don't want to end up with 6, or 10, or whatever. They are likely to "meet" on a group chat beforehand so can discuss then.
Everyone takes an airer, not sure how many use them. We got collapsible Ikea laundry baskets which they can carry down to the laundry. They are indestructible and going strong several years later. Also the clear large zip bags from Ikea instead of a suitcase - easier to store.
As soon as the results are out Ikea, Dunelm & Wilko will be full of parents pushing trolleys with their offspring.
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TizerorFizz · 08/02/2022 18:19

Do boys really have fairy lights?

The uni accommodation should say what’s needed. It might be a novel idea, but uni cities have shops! You don’t need to think of absolutely everything! We bought DD a loo brush locally and a few other bits and pieces no one had thought about. Amazon is your friend too.

I think as they are no longer resident with you, they need to register with a doctor. They need a laptop and consider a printer if they must print work. Take secondhand kitchen equipment and crockery etc. Don’t take too much though. Most students wait and see what others have bought before taking the kitchen sink.

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Cookerhood · 08/02/2022 18:28

Some unis insist on them signing up for a local doctor. Mine had weird strip like things on a tape (colour changing) rather than fairy lights.

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TizerorFizz · 08/02/2022 18:49

An Anglepoise style reading light works well if the room is a bit dull. Forget fairy lights which have no use. Just extra expense.

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GnomeDePlume · 08/02/2022 19:26

Had two go off to uni. Youngest now in final year.

We used maintenance loan to pay accommodation then paid a weekly sum to DC to cover food. This made budgeting for DC a lot easier.

They won't have much kitchen space and also food theft is a real problem so do look at some sort of dry food container which could go under the bed.

Tip I gave DD1 was to not get into a Costa habit. Years later I heard DD1 pass this tip onto DD2! Costa will absorb all available money.

If not on campus then do look at bus/tram passes.

Keep expectations low. Both my DCs struggled in their first year. Both found their flatmates 'difficult' but for different reasons. DD1 had very wealthy flatmates who couldn't understand why DD1 couldn't afford to be on the lash every night. DD2's flat turned into the MDMA flat (upstairs was the coke flat). This did not make for a peaceful existence. Both DDs far happier in second year with course mates in student houses.

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labyrinthlaziness · 08/02/2022 19:31

I did quite a lot of prep with mine, and it was good I think. These are some thinsg we did:

  • Gave them a budget to cook their own tea one night a week, so by the time they went they were used to planning AND cooking (before this they had cooked what we had asked them to, but not often just decided to make xyz off their own bat)
  • Got them to write a shared google sheet on what stuff they need to a) take and b) buy
  • Got them to organise where we were going to get bits from, and look at comparing prices
  • Got them to draft up their own weekly budget, including using a supermarket website to plan how much food theyw oudl actually need
  • Got them to write the list of what services they would need and start having a look on google maps for where things were

    Mine were all badly treated by us Grin so well used to doing their own washing/ironing/cleaning but if not get them doing this too.
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gogohm · 08/02/2022 19:32

Firstly unless he has an unconditional offer do not put any non refundable deposits down.

Most self cater so getting him cooking economical meals, batch cooking is a good idea. Start putting together a basic kitchen kit, charity shops have suitable things often and put together some herbs and spices which he knows how to use.

Depending on course he will need a lap top of better or worse spec.

I give my a DD's monthly allowance for food £120 a month, their dad tops up maintenance loan for the rent.

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TizerorFizz · 08/02/2022 19:46

We gave DD £400 a month 10 years ago. £120 a month is very tight. We expected DD to buy what she needed. If she wanted coffee and chat with friends, she did. We paid for phone but she bought clothes and went out when she wanted to. We didn’t need to top up rent. It matched her loan. Household incomes, and therefore decisions, vary.

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CrimbleCrumble1 · 08/02/2022 19:50

If he can’t cook yet you or your DH teach him about five meals he will be able to make himself. Tuppaware containers are useful for example make a big bolognaise sauce and keep half for the next day.

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GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat · 08/02/2022 20:25

He's pretty self sufficient, has a job, can drive, can cook and clean. Not saying he's perfect but hopefully good enough for an 18 year old Grin

Lots of things I'd thought of buying seem to be no no's from reading this. Was going to take him to IKEA for bits he needs. We don't really own old bits he could take. No airer or kitchen equipment until he knows more about what he'll need.

I'm worried about the drug issues mentioned I wont lie. That sounds difficult. I also worry about bullying, he's got a great group of friends who are very accepting of different lifestyles and it will be upsetting if people aren't that way at uni. I'm sure they will be, I'm just worrying.

Our family income is about £45k, what sort of loan might he get based on that? We're hoping it will cover his rent.

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Malbecfan · 08/02/2022 21:01

DD2 uses Monzo for her budget. Once she gets her loan, she pays her termly rent then divides what's left by the number of weeks in that term to give her a weekly budget. She transfers that from her main student account to her Monzo one.

I don't know the exact numbers so suggest you go to MSE to check up about student finance. Also wait until the banks sort out their student accounts as there are some good deals with things like railcards thrown in. Again, MSE is really helpful.

DD2 had an unconditional offer so knew her accommodation ages in advance. We did some IKEA and some Wilko shopping for crockery, cutlery, pans and glasses. Tupperware containers are great - DD would cook enough for 2 then have one portion for dinner and the other for lunch the following day. She always had access to a freezer but her DSis at Cambridge didn't. Batch cooking is much easier with a freezer.

Both DDs had a laptop before they went off. DD2 had an iPad too. We have a family WhatsApp group so can all keep in contact easily. Will your DS need a bike? DD1's came from the local recycling centre for £8. We bought her a good lock for it. I'll keep thinking...

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LlamaLucy · 08/02/2022 21:02

To take as little as possible. Teach him a few simple meals. Vitamin tablets. Take him to the campus laundrette and show him how to use the washing machine - if it’s coin operated, give him the coins, as he probably only uses a card. Condoms.

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