Living on campus is a big rite of passage for many students attending university. It’s likely to be the first time your child has been away from home for an extended period.
They may embrace their newfound independence or feel anxious about the responsibilities for managing their own life. Either way, you’re probably worrying their new living arrangements will be a distraction from their studies. To ease everyone’s mind, read this guidance for parents and caregivers if your child is starting university.
Is your child ready for university?
Movies like Animal House or Neighbors paint student life in a mythical light of bad behaviour. The reality is most students take their studies seriously. The first thing to keep in mind is that your child will have a good support network around them when they live on campus.
Don’t worry; they’ll study
Research about the academic benefits of living on campus says students do better living in a university environment. They have an increase in academic performance that extends to subsequent semesters even if they later move off campus. Also, there’s easy opportunity for collaborative studying with friends and classmates. A university environment provides excellent resources like:
- computer technology and laboratories
- sport and recreation
- counselling centres
- student social hubs
- university-sponsored extracurricular activities
Acquiring life skills for independent living
If you’re worried your child will end up living on two-minute noodles, it’s best to accept it’s likely to happen. If not noodles, then rice or potatoes. Face it, you’re worried because you probably went through the same phase at the same age, where grocery money was spent on non-essentials like parties and clothes. It’s part of growing up and part of learning how to make good choices.
While you probably can’t control food choices or whether they’re keeping their new home tidy, here are ways you can influence your child’s decisions about living on campus:
Discuss housing options
You might find moving away from home is an abstract idea for your child. Help them explore all the student housing options available, including the Murdoch Village which is located on the Murdoch University campus. Taking a campus tour with your child is a good way to ground expectation in reality. You can also drive or take a stroll through the campus to get a feel for what life is like for students.
Consider a budget
Make sure your child has simple budgeting skills and has a good idea about how to manage money. Set some firm guidelines with your child about non-negotiable expenses like rent, utilities and transportation. They’ll also need to consider ongoing living costs while living at uni.
Make a plan
Sit down with your child and discuss all they’ll need to move out. Create shopping lists for things like furniture, dishes, cutlery, glassware, pots and pan, sheets, towels and window treatments. They’ll also need to think about cleaning supplies and toiletries, especially if you’ve always provided them.
Chances are your child hasn’t considered all the practicalities of life away from home. They’ll need to consider their budget for household goods and how much they want to spend. It might make sense for them to start looking through op shops, second-hand stores and Gumtree listings. Where you can, help source the items they need but make sure they know how much things cost. If you do it all for them, they’ll miss out on a lot of fun and have no appreciation for the value of their new household goods.
Tips for parents of university students
It’s good to recognise your anxiety might have nothing to do with how your child is feeling. Mixed emotions are normal when your child leaves home, especially if they are the first or the last to leave. Children – and their parents or caregivers – can benefit from ground rules and establishing new routines prior to the move. These can include:
- Agreeing on times to call or video chat every week
- Scheduling family meals at regular intervals throughout the semester
- Picking weekends for your child to spend at home
- Meeting on campus for school events
- Planning ahead for major holidays like Christmas or Easter
Your teenager might admit to you they’re not ready to leave home. Tell them it’s OK and they don’t have to live on campus. Make sure your child is aware of Murdoch facilities and services, remind them of the family support you’ve jointly planned, and ensure they know how to access the health and counselling services to look after their physical and mental health.
Learn more about living at Murdoch University to help your child prepare for the big step to university and living on campus.