When I started University it was really hard to get my parents to understand the pressure of it all.
All of the sudden you are bombarded with responsibility and obligations that you were never warned about. Financial issues that you face as a young adult in the modern tertiary education system may not have been the same financial issues your parents faced when they were the same age. Textbook prices can be astronomically high, depending on your field, and University amenity fees can be another fee you never saw coming. Here are a few things I wish my parents had understood when I started my first year at Uni:
Finding a job is harder than you think
Sure, there are plenty of jobs going in hospitality and retail, but here are some hurtles I faced when trying to tie one down:
- I’m under-qualified
- I’m overqualified
- I’m a student so I’m unreliable
- I’m a student so my mind will be elsewhere when I’m on shift
- I’m a student so I can be taken advantage of by my employer (paid less, treated as expendable etc)
One employer used to reprimand me like a child in front of embarrassed customers because I was 30 years younger than her, then tell customers I didn’t understand the real world because I was a student. I needed the money so badly that I allowed the bullying of this employer to go on for months. If your kid hasn’t tied down a job yet, don’t assume it’s because they haven’t tried. The casual job-force is difficult to manoeuvre.
I’m not eating unhealthily because I’m lazy, I just don’t know what to buy
In my first year I thought that buying healthy food was too expensive, when really it was just that I didn’t know where to look. I didn’t know that brown rice was cheap if you bought the Coles brand, or that chicken thigh is often cheaper than chicken fillets. I learned these things over time, but it took a good year of eating 2 Minute Noodles before I figured all of that out. We’re trying, sometimes we just don’t know what aisle to shop in.
Textbooks are a thorn in our side
I didn’t qualify for student allowance, so it meant that I had to work to earn money to buy my textbooks. Luckily for me, I was doing a degree that meant my textbook list wasn’t too expensive. However, people who study Law, Medicine or sciences had $700 textbook lists. We might go weeks in class without owning the textbook because it’s taken us that long to get the money together. If it looks like we’re broke all the time, textbooks could be playing a huge part of that.
My room is dirty because I’m a young adult
Don’t forget that we are new to this. Up until this point we had loving and caring parents who kept things clean around the house so we didn’t have to. We got comfortable in that lifestyle, so washing our linen and vacuuming the floor are new responsibilities to us. Sure, I revelled in the fact that I didn’t have my parents nagging me to clean my room, but there is no need to be concerned, we will clean it. Just not yet
Don’t worry, we are studying
A great thing about living on campus is that you’re thrown in with a bunch of students who are there for the same thing – their degree. You probably think back to when you had to nag us to do our homework every night, but this is different. We worked so hard in high school to get to this point and we’re not about to waste the opportunity to be here. It takes a good few months to get a grasp on your study methods at uni, just give us the space to figure that out.
If we don’t call, we aren’t missing. We’re just having fun.
For the first few months I called my mum daily because I was homesick. After a while I stopped, and then she called me. Heaps of parents freaked out about their kids when they didn’t answer the phone or return a message. Don’t freak out. Our phone died, we’re in class, or we are out with friends and we will call you back. University is non-stop, and we’re trying to find balance – we will call you back, just not right away.
I know it was hard for my mum to take a step back after my sisters and I left for university. We left town and moved to the big city, and the habits and normalcies of the last 20-odd years had to shift. This is hard, but we still love you. We’re just trying to figure out how the hell you did it!