Freshers' Week is a rite of passage for teenagers going to university, to help ease their transition into university life and for many teenagers across the country it is starting this week.
It is billed as the start of the best years ever but the reality can be tricky. Here are some top tips for parents and their teenagers to survive that first week.
Even my social media savvy teen nearly overlooked this, but Facebook communities are where it all starts. Once the results are in and their university offer has been confirmed, they can join their university's Facebook community to get vital information on what is happening during that first all important week. With hundreds of organised events to make that transition from home to away easier, including a Freshers' Week wristband to guarantee reduced price entry to the main events, this is where the party starts. Wristbands are limited and whilst they can buy individual tickets for events when in situ, these make their life a whole lot easier.
As well as the general university Facebook community, there are also communities for their halls of residence and the key societies. Casting my mind back to my university days I didn't know a soul when I arrived, a sharp contrast to our son who had copious information at his fingertips about every undergraduate in the university, his halls of residence, his corridor even and his course. It is so much easier nowadays.
Freshers' flu was a thing 30 years ago when I was a student and it is still very much alive and kicking. With thousands of strangers coming together in a new environment, university is by its a nature a breeding ground for bacteria. Add to this the inevitable high octane socialising and it is not surprising that many new undergraduates are left nursing more than a heavy head at the end of the week. Compile a freshers' first aid kit in a bid to battle the germs, include some high dosage Vitamin C or Berocca to boost their immune system and the all important 21st century accessory hand sanitizer. In the event that a cure is needed include those fail-safe remedies, Lemsip and Nurofen.
It's not easy adjusting to a completely new environment and meeting new people is always nerve-racking. It can be made easier by leaving their room door open so that people moving in on their corridor can pop their head in and say hello. Invest in a door stop. An open door, like a smile, is inviting.
Freshers' Week is all about socialising and getting to know people in a relaxed environment before the hard work starts. But they can take it too far with the club nights. Encourage them to strike a balance, sometimes it is a lot easier to get to know people over a quiet drink in the bar than doing it large every night.
Like it or not fancy dress is a big part of Freshers' Week and if they don't want to be left out or look like a party pooper, pack a few bits and bobs to see them through the week.
It's not all about the parties. Freshers' Week gives students the chance to sign up to a range of clubs and societies that interest them. It is easy, however, to get carried away in the first week and sign up to more than is physically possible or affordable. There are some, such as the sports ones, that are more popular than others and they need to be quick to join these, but there are also others that they can sign up to after the week is over. It is important that they pace themselves.
Amidst all the madness of the first week they also need to buy their books and attend their course introductory social evenings. It is important for them to make sure they are ready to study on the first day of term. After all, that's why they're there!