Updated: Nov 3
Practical Tips To Survive Exam Season and Prepare for College
Are you a parent anxiously awaiting the IB or A-level exam results that will determine whether your student has achieved the grades needed to get into their first-choice university. The next few weeks could be an emotional rollercoaster for both you and your child, which will need to be handled with care. In the meantime, we have compiled a list of practical tips for parents to prepare your student for college over the summer to ease the transition into campus life.
Follow Our Practical Tips To Prepare For College Over The Summer
Tip 1: Talk about expectations and a backup plan
It is important to have an open and honest conversation with your student about their hopes and expectations, possible outcomes, and even a contingency plan in case the exam results aren’t what were expected.
By discussing these issues now, before emotions run high, you will be better prepared for any disappointments or unexpected outcomes.
Having a plan B, as one of your practical tips for you to do, will make it easier to shift gears and maintain a forward-looking approach if things don't go exactly as planned.
Tip 2: Downtime and Bounce-time!
With exams behind them, it's natural for your student to want some downtime and relaxation. They are probably already sleeping in, eating late breakfasts and spending hours on their phones, playing Xbox or watching Netflix.
While it's important to let them relax, it's also important to encourage them to bounce back, hit the reset button and prepare for the next chapter in their lives.
Tip 3: Set a schedule
Set clear expectations for the summer months to ensure your student doesn't spend all their time idling or engaging in unproductive activities.
Consider creating a schedule that ‘encourages’ them to wake up before noon and spend time with the family, and negotiate a curfew or notification for nights out.
Encourage them to get active, and not laze around all summer. Do some sports, clean out their old clothes or sportswear, and toss out old school books.
Nearer the end of the holiday period, get them to ease into a routine that mimics a university schedule.
In addition, give them some daily chores to do, such as emptying the dishwasher, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the rubbish, helping with the shopping or cleaning their own bathroom.
Remind them that being home doesn't mean they get a free pass to do nothing!
Tip 4: Teach them essential life skills
University life comes with newfound independence, and your student will benefit from learning some essential skills before leaving home. Take the opportunity to teach them practical tasks that they will need to master once living independently.
Such tasks include:
making their bed: including putting on a duvet cover, buttoning up the duvet cover before washing to prevent it swallowing up the sheets.
doing laundry: including separating whites from colours, understanding washing labels, how to remove stains.
cooking simple meals: encourage them to look up recipes online using specific ingredients and give them the freedom to experiment in the kitchen, either under your supervision or independently, using online resources.
Cleaning: including dusting, which products to use where, vacuuming, cleaning the oven, microwave, etc. Test their skills at home (evil laugh)!
Basic first aid: what to do in case of a burn, cut, allergic reaction, etc. and show them how to use a first aid kit. Click on this link to compile a kit yourself.
Tip 5: Learn how to create a budget
Managing finances is one of the most important aspects of university life, and one which over 59% of students struggle with, according to a recent UK-based survey. Help your child create a budget to ensure they understand the value of money and how to spend it wisely. Developing good budgeting skills is crucial for university students as it helps them to manage their finances responsibly and make informed decisions about their spending.
You can use the interactive budget calculator we created in the Member Resources section of our website to guide you through this process.
We also offer a FREE online training course to help students understand the basics of budgeting. By developing good habits early on, they will be better equipped to manage their finances throughout their university life and subsequent career.
Tip 6: Prioritize essential spending
Teach your student how to budget the essential expenses such as rent, utilities, food and school supplies. These should be planned first to ensure they are covered before funds are allocated for discretionary spending.
Tip 7: Set spending limits
The next step is to teach your student to be disciplined and stay within their financial limits. A tried and tested strategy is to carry only cash when shopping or visiting the local student hangout. However, in our cashless culture, this may not work.
Using a good financial app has two advantages over using cash alone. Firstly, it can be used as a starting point for budgeting. Secondly, in many cases you can use the budget to set limits on your spending. They won't actually stop them from paying, but it will send out a persistent, automated reminder..
Tip 8: Find out about student discounts
Tip 9: Plan for emergencies
Remind your student to keep some money aside for emergencies or unexpected expenses. It is also important to establish a protocol between you if they run into financial difficulty.
While you don’t want to have to bail them out every month – as that won’t teach them to manage their budget successfully – you do need to cut them some slack during the initial learning curve, as budgeting is an acquired skill and takes time.
Tip 10: Encourage wise spending habits
Teach your student the importance of making informed purchasing decisions. Encourage them to compare prices, shop around and avoid impulse purchases.
Discuss strategies such as waiting 24 hours before making non-essential purchases to make sure they really need or want an item.
Tip 11: Review and adjust regularly
Emphasize the importance of regularly reviewing their budget and making adjustments as necessary.
Circumstances may change throughout the academic year, so encourage your student to review their budget regularly and make necessary adjustments to ensure that it remains realistic and effective.
As an example, my daughter gradually learned over the first few months at university to shop wisely, grabbing bargains when she saw them, and honing her meal prepping skills, and we were able to then significantly reduce the initial grocery budget.
Tip 12: Get a summer job
Encourage your student to get a summer job before college to earn some funds to contribute to their living expenses, but also to gain valuable work experience, which will be good for their CV.
A part-time job will help them develop important skills such as time management, responsibility, and financial independence. It will also provide them with some funds for their socializing budget for when they start university, allowing them to take part in different activities and going out without feeling financially stretched.
Tip 13: Explore the university town
If it is not within a reasonable distance to plan a visit to the university town or city where your student will be studying, then research it online.
Spend some time exploring the area, the campus and getting a feel for the surroundings.
Familiarizing yourself with the new environment will help ease any anxiety your child may have about the transition.
In addition, consider researching local amenities and services together, such as local supermarkets, health facilities, and recreational opportunities such as sports, parks, swimming pools, etc. (if not already available on campus).
Tip 14: Connect with others in advance
Look up online forums or social media groups - both for parents of university students and your students new class group or flat-mates.
This is an excellent way to connect with others who are going through similar experiences.
You can usually find your classmates online through social media, and even discuss who's bringing what in terms of kitchen equipment to avoid five toasters arriving in the same shared kitchen!
Tip 15: Show your support, but not your anxiety
As your student embarks on their university journey, remember to offer them your unwavering support and reassurance.
Keep the lines of communication open and allow them to express their fears, excitement, and any concerns they may have.
By following these practical tips to do over summer, you will be providing a stable foundation and essential skills, and enable your student to start this new chapter in their life with confidence.
If you haven’t already checked out our website – go check it out! You will find useful resources and FAQs to help prepare you for the big departure. And read our blogs written by past students who have captured useful tips and shared their experiences.
I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions or feedback, feel free to contact us.
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Have a great summer! More soon..