Top tips for the first term

26th September 2022

Kids heading off to uni? Founder of Gals Who Graduate, Bronte King, shares her top tips for helping them (and you!) prepare

After a summer of being at home with my family and feeling extremely comfortable in my hometown with my school friends, the thought of going to a new city, moving away from home, and being a 2-hour train ride (thank goodness for my 16-25 Railcard!) from my family was very daunting. I can’t imagine the feeling for those who have had lockdowns, covid restrictions, and spent more time at home than ever before. My parents helped me prepare for university - not only with the practical things like packing up my room - but also emotionally and honestly having your parents by your side each step helps make the entire process easier.


The days leading up to university:


My mum sat up in my room with me and helped me pack everything away. We went through all the clothes and put them into piles of what I would wear to lectures, nights out, the gym, the library, etc so I didn't overpack. I'd say a massive thing that helped was every time we thought of something I needed, for example, I forgot a mattress topper until the day before, we'd go online and order it together straight away and tick it off the list. Making a list as you go of everything you've ordered, and items that you still need to order is super helpful so that it's two minds together not just your own.


Every time I felt any emotion, whether it was sad, nervous, excited, or anything, I'd speak to my parents about it and talk through what was going on in my brain. It's such a big change in life that being open and honest about how you feel is the best thing to do. Letting your child know you are there for them – while also giving them the space to feel all their feelings - is a good balance.


Even though you’re only going to be a phone call away, they're going to have to deal with a lot on their own once you've dropped them off so here's a mini crash course on what I did with my parents before I left:


Whites, darks, mixed?! Making sure I don’t shrink my favourite jumper? HOW DO I DO THAT!? I went through how to use a washing machine with my parents before I left and what goes where, which colour goes with which, and how not to make things five times too small for myself. As simple as it sounds, something like this is one less housework task to worry about. Adding to this, when you move your child into their university accommodation, have a look at the washing machine with them before you leave so when they go in alone, they feel confident to do it the first time. I had a washing card that I topped up online. Going through that with my parents before they left made me feel so much better about doing it all.


COOKING (not wasting food)

I cooked a few times with my mum before I left uni. They were all super easy meals that I could cook in bulk so I could use all the fresh ingredients up and eat them throughout the week, rather than letting things waste and go off in the fridge. It also stopped me from just reaching for pesto pasta every evening as it was as simple as getting a Tupperware box out of the fridge and microwaving something I'd made earlier in the week!



University is usually the first time we're given a large amount of money that we must budget -and this can be daunting. I found that going through an estimate of my monthly spending and what I would use my student loan for with my parents beforehand eased money anxieties a lot. Knowing how much I needed for rent, food, travel, social life, etc before starting university and having it all written down for when my first student loan came in was a big help. When applying for my student loan, I also sat at the computer with my dad and went through the process with him to make sure I was doing it right.



One thing I loved when I moved in was home comforts. Having a candle or diffuser that smelt like home or a blanket that reminded me of home really made me feel better in the first few weeks. I also remember unpacking the last bits when my parents had left me and seeing a little note from my mum in the bag, and that just made me feel so comforted - little things like that really help - as does making your child's room as homely and comforting as possible and creating their safe space during a scary time. Whilst I was moving boxes up from the car, my parents also made my bed for me, so it was the first thing done in the room, which immediately made it feel warm and cosy.


Now onto when you leave your children and the first few days of university:



There's a middle ground between wanting to know they're ok – but also giving them the space to make friends and establish this new part of life. I knew my parents were always there on the other end of the phone whenever I needed them, but I also didn’t want to check my phone every time and there be a message from my mum saying she was crying, missing me and couldn’t wait to see me. I really appreciated a morning message from my parents checking in and wishing me luck, but I loved the fact they didn’t overdo it. After I’d settled in, my mum said she was upset when she left me there and wanted to check in more but also to give me the space to find my feet, and I think this helped a lot – all these feelings are very normal!



A gentle and friendly reminder to your child in the first few days that everyone is in the same boat helps a lot. Something that really helped me make friends was the reminder from my parents that everyone wants to do the same thing, make friends, feel more at ease, and make memories. This made it easier to go up to people and create conversation.


Hopefully, this is a helpful guide for all navigating this huge life change. From a girl that's been to university and now three years since graduating, I can safely say my parents were a massive help in the entire process - and I can't thank them enough for the support. I absolutely loved introducing them to my university friends and after I settled in, getting them to visit to see my life at university.
As much as you want to help, sometimes leaving us to find our feet and waiting for us to ask you is the best way (and if you don't hear from us for a few days, don’t worry - we're just making the most of being students a bit too much!!).