Move in Day | Helping Your Child Settle in at University

Move in Day | Helping Your Child Settle in at University

by Newcastle University

Moving into university halls, when your child truly flies the nest – possibly for the first time – must rank among the most stressful life events for parents. But it doesn’t have to be, if you approach things in the right way.

Moving in day is emotionally tough, but if you remain positive, practical and hold back the tears, you’ll help kickstart your child’s university journey in the best possible way.


Be prepared

Start preparing well in advance by shopping for the things your child will need – items don’t have to be pricey, but it’s good if they’re durable to withstand the rigours of student life.

Most students spend their first year in university-owned, or managed partnership accommodation – at Newcastle new students are guaranteed a place in halls if they meet certain criteria – and that means their room and flat will be furnished and the kitchen equipped with electronic items including a kettle, toaster and microwave.

Typically, they’ll need:

  • cutlery, crockery, pots, pans and kitchen utensils
  • towels and tea towels
  • bedding (pillow, duvet, sheet)
  • laundry basket
  • coat hangers
  • alarm clock
  • clothes
  • toiletries
  • laptop/desktop PC and charges

It’s also worth packing some things that will remind your child of home so they can personalise their bedroom, but that doesn’t mean they need to take EVERYTHING they own. Find the right balance between the things they want and the things they need and remember, it’s all got to fit in the car!

Because the more prepared you are, the better you’ll feel on the day, plan your route to university and try to get to know the campus layout in advance.

Open Days are ideal opportunities to explore, and don’t underestimate virtual campus and city tours; use them to orientate yourself and your child as to where their accommodation is in relation to main facilities.


Know the process

Universities are very thorough when it comes to the logistics of moving-in day, so your child will receive a moving in date and may even get a time slot for when they can turn up; this helps staff manage traffic at the accommodation sites.

On arrival, your child will need to check in at reception to pick up keys and finalise any paperwork. You’ll have time to unpack – usually about half an hour – but may need to move your car after that time, so scout out nearby public parking beforehand.

Current students may be on hand to show your child where facilities are, if not, help them explore. It’s definitely worth finding the laundry room and checking they understand how to use the machines which may operate on a pre-paid system – then they’ve got no excuse for bringing mountains of washing home at the end of term.


Don’t feel out of place – you should be there

If your child is worried you’ll be the only parent at moving-in day, reassure them that almost everyone’s parents turn up to help – it will only be weird if you’re planning to set up a camp bed and stay with them!

It’s important you see where your child is going to be living and you’ll be needed to fetch and carry on the day.

And while you’re quietly unpacking in the background, encourage them to introduce themselves to their new flatmates to break the ice; chances are they’ll be organising their first flat get-together before you know it.


Know when to go home

You mightn’t want to leave them, but you’ve got to. Before you do, check they know:

  • where their first registration event/welcome talk is
  • where the nearest bank is and/or hole-in-the-wall cash machine
  • if they’re travelling to campus, how to get there, including the nearest bus stop and bus times

This is not helicopter parenting, it’s just a way of making sure they know what they’re doing on their first day. Take them food shopping, too, so they know where the nearest supermarket is, are stocked up with food and have had possibly their first taste of budgeting.


Stay positive

You may feel quite emotional on the day but try not to show it. Your child will be excited about starting university; they’ve worked hard to get there and this is the culmination of a lot of hopes, dreams and plans, so be happy for them.

If they’re feeling nervous, be positive and help them focus on all the amazing things they’ll be doing. Reassure them that they’ll soon settle in and make new friends.

Leave them feeling happy, confident, and looking forward to their first evening in halls and save your tears for the car going home.


Keeping in touch

Try to balance how much support your child needs, with how much you miss them and want to call.

It can be tough resisting the urge to ring, so arrange a set day or time to speak to them – this will give you something to look forward to and give them some space during those first few weeks if they need it.

If they’re feeling homesick, they may need more contact. Help them stay upbeat and reassure them that things will get easier.

If you have any serious concerns about your child, contact the university immediately. Support and Wellbeing staff will get in touch with them to check everything is ok and put your mind at rest.

University staff understand how difficult it can be for parents when their child is living away from home and they have a duty of care for your child that they take very seriously.

Although we use the terms parent/child throughout this blog for simplicity, it is intended for anyone fulfilling a parenting role.

For further reassurance about how Newcastle University looks after students, why not read our blog?