The parent's guide to supporting their child in university

It seems like only yesterday that your child was taking life’s first baby steps, starting kindergarten, and passing the driver's test. And just like that, they’re off to university.

It's an exciting time and one that is filled with a lot of emotions, both for you and your child. Like any good parent, you'll want to make sure that your university-bound kid is prepared for what's to come so that the next few years go by without a hitch.

Support the university student in your life by following one (or all) of the following tips:

Drip Feed Money Into Their Account

One of the more common necessities for university students is money. While tuition may already be dealt with, it's the everyday requirements that students need that can easily burn a hole in their pockets, like textbooks, food, and entertainment.

Without a financial resource to tap into, post-secondary education students can quickly find themselves in a desperate search for some extra cash to support their expenditures.

As a parent, you'll want to arm them with enough money to sustain them throughout their university career. But while you could fill their bank account with a few thousand dollars, it might be best to add little by little every month or so. That way they aren't tempted to blow all the money they have available to them, especially if they're not well-versed in money management, which brings us to our next point.

Teach Them How to Budget

Before packing your kid up for bigger and better things, take some time to teach them the ropes about proper budgeting. Everyone is given a certain amount of money to work with in life, and the secret is to live within your means so you don't wind up buried in debt.

Young adults who know they've got a pile of money at their disposal might want to splurge, especially during the first few weeks when their newfound independence is still fresh and exciting. To help them better manage their money, teach them basic budgeting skills so they always have enough money set aside for food, clothing, books, rent, and any other expenditure they might have.

Sending your child off to university with a realistic budget and sound money management skills will not only ensure that there are no major debt issues to deal with later, but will prepare them for life as an adult long after they've graduated.

Get Them Set Up With a Student Credit Card

To afford financial products in the future - such as auto loans, mortgages, and personal loans - you need to have established some credit. Lenders will typically refuse to work with borrowers who do not have a decent credit score when they apply. And one of the best ways to build credit is to use a credit card responsibly.

Unfortunately, many university students graduate from school without credit. After all, they've spent the last few years studying and not making a conscious effort to establish credit. And how can one get approved for a credit card without credit?

Luckily, student credit cards are available specifically to those who are enrolled in a post-secondary institution. They're easier to get approved for and can be the perfect way to establish credit.

Help your children apply for a student credit card that they can use throughout their school days. Otherwise, consider adding them to your own credit card account as an authorized user - as long as they're financially responsible. That way when they graduate, they'll come out not only ready to work, but ready and qualified to take out any one of the many financial products available to get a leg up on life.

Equip Them With Practical Skills

If your child will be moving out of the home and on campus, there are certain household skills that your child should be comfortable with besides budgeting. Think about all the things that need to be done on a regular basis, like cooking, laundry, ironing, cleaning, and even troubleshooting minor issues in their dorm room.

If your child hasn't already been responsible for tackling some of these standard household chores, teach them before you bid adieu. They'll need to learn them at some point, so make sure they're equipped with these important abilities before they head out.

Arm Them With a Safety Gadget or Two

Wandering around campus - especially after the sun sets - presents certain dangers that your child may be faced with if they're not aware of their surroundings. While no parent wants to think about the possibility of harm coming to their child, it's still important to take certain precautions to keep them safe.

In addition to teaching them how to be wary of what's happening around them and to avoid putting themselves in harm's way, you may also want to send your children off with a tool that can boost their level of security. This can include things like a flashlight attachment for their keys, a whistle, or a gadget that alerts authorities with the push of a button. These days, there are all sorts of gadgets available that are specifically designed to help people get out of a jam, and you may want to consider arming your child with one.

Send Them Care Packages on Occasion

Many university students who live away from home tend to get homesick, despite enjoying their time on campus. What better way to make them feel at home while providing them with some things they might need than with a care package?

From time to time, send your child a care package filled with some of their favourite things. This can include items like toiletries, snacks, vitamins, gift cards, and even photos or letters from family members back home. You could also stick to a certain theme with every care package you send. For instance, you may want to go with a movie night-themed package that includes a couple of DVDs and microwave popcorn, or a spa-themed package filled with nail polish, an exfoliant scrub, and a face mask. Of course, the theme you choose will depend on the traits and personality of your (big) baby!

Schedule Regular Check-in Calls

You might be tempted to call or text multiple times per day, especially over the first few days and weeks. But you also don't want to cramp their style. Instead, schedule regular calls so that you can check in with your child to make sure all is good without bombarding them.

Lisa Rennie has been working as a freelance writer for over a decade, crafting unique content aimed to educate Canadian consumers. Her constant state of curiosity and incessant need to get the answers to her never-ending questions serve her well as a content writer. In her spare time, Lisa enjoys trying her hand at exciting new recipes, snuggling with her pup, and reveling in the presence of her kids.

Lisa Rennie is a paid spokesperson of Sonnet Insurance.

Canadian university alumni, start saving with an exclusive Sonnet discount.