8 Questions to ask your parents before you move to uni

23 Jul 2020
By Unite Students, Staff writer at The Common Room

How ready are you to start university? We asked 1,000 people aged 16-19 that question. We then asked 1,000 parents what they thought. Can you guess what we found?

That’s right, teenagers are more optimistic about their life skills than their parents are. Shock-horror-who-could-have-guessed!?

84% of teenagers expect to wash their bedsheets more than once a month.

So, because it never hurts to double-check the facts, here are eight things to ask your parents about before you start uni.

1) Cooking

Our survey found 78% of teenagers are confident about cooking a meal from scratch on their own. But only 55% of parents think their children could do that.

Now is the time to watch, ask, and cook. Get in the kitchen with your parents. Learn to chop, peel, fry, and boil. Get a week’s worth of healthy recipes under your belt before you move.

Read more: Batch cooking: Take the stress out of your kitchen

2) Laundry

We learned that 84% of teenagers expect to wash their bedsheets more than once a month. But 39% of parents think they’re kidding themselves.

Learn the basics now. Ask your parents about separating colours and fabrics, temperatures, liquids and tablets, dryers. The machines will be different, but the principles are the same.

3) Money

If there’s one thing parents know, it’s money-management. Balancing the books with mouths to feed and bills to pay is a skill that you can learn - and one your parents can teach you.

Nearly three quarters of parents think they’ll probably lend money to their children during the first term. But only a third of teenagers expect to borrow from their parents.

Read more: Budget: 3 Ways to make your student loan last

4) Sex

Of the parents we spoke to, 45% said they’ve given their kids advice about sex. But only 23% of teenagers said their parents have done that.

Society is talking about sexual consent, health, and safety more openly than ever before. Whether you’re sexually active or you aren’t, talk about these things now with the people who care about you most.

5) Mental health

Struggling with mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. But, just like issues around sex, we can only learn to navigate these new experiences by talking about them.

Just 35% of parents said they’ve given their kids advice about mental health, and only 23% of teenagers said they’ve had those conversations.

Ask your parents about stress. Find out how they recognise when it’s affecting their mood and health. What helps them cope? Who do they talk to?

6) Relationships

Perhaps your parents have experienced long-distance relationships. Maybe they remember what it was like making so many new friends at uni. Maybe they’ve had to deal with trust and jealousy issues before. Ask them about these things, it could be a huge help to you.

Among the parents we spoke to, 42% said they’ve given relationship advice to their children. Just 28% of teenagers felt they’d been given this advice.

Read more: Relationships: How do you know if they’re healthy?

7) Drugs

Exposure to drugs is one of many new experiences that can happen at university. More than half of parents said they’ve given advice about drugs to their children. But just 34% of teenagers felt they’d received drugs advice.

Frank and honest conversations you have now might help to lessen the impact or shock of any drug use you’re exposed to at university.

8) Alcohol

However you feel about alcohol, rest assured you do not need to drink (or drink to excess) to make friends at uni. In 2017, 27% of 16-24 year-olds in the UK said they don’t drink at all.

58% of parents claim they’ve given alcohol advice to their children, and only 42% of teenagers said they’ve had parental guidance on this topic.

Got questions about alcohol? Ask your parents now.

Rather get advice from other students?

We know that, sometimes, it helps to hear from people who’ve been through all this recently. So take a look around the Common Room - you’ll find hundreds of articles about student life from our student and graduate writers.

Read more: Download the Making the Move to University white paper (PDF, 12 MB)

84% of teenagers expect to wash their bedsheets more than once a month.
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Staff writer at The Common Room