5 Things Every Parent should know before their Child starts University

parent and child

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.) The balance of 50% needs to be paid around end of March/April, whereas the final balance of 50% needs to be paid around end of June/July. Once again exact dates depend upon the institution. So that’s good news. Call me innocent, but I presumed the full amount would have to be paid first day of varsity and so this was a surprising to me. Of course my husband knew but for me it was a surprise.

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 – better to be safe than sorry.

3. The Marks aren’t yours

When your child goes off to university, THEY 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 rein, 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 they are not 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 is not the time to jump in and ‘save’ your child from a room mate that is coming back and throwing up each night, or a range of other activities in the shared dorm room that make them feel uncomfortable! You are there to help your child pick their way through this minefield and to give them 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 in their own time, with your guidance only.

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 their future lives. Of course, we all sit down and tell them to work hard, but in fact we are so education-oriented, that we forget that this is actually the first real tangible step into adulthood. Few people now make a really big deal about their 18th or 21st Birthdays. Mostly now, they 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. Somehow the solemnity of this moment of sending your child off to university is a milestone to be honoured more formally, and I could not think of a better way to hand over this baton.


-Janine Basel (Article here)