10 Tips on How to Help Your Child Prepare to Study in Canada

Is your child prepared for university? 

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As an independent educational counsellor based in Canada who works with a lot of international students studying far from home, I have profound admiration for these young people who move to live and study in a new culture, where mom cannot pop by to cook a meal or two or three. 

I am just returning from stocking up the fridge of my 21-year-old studying across the country from me and have been sitting in the airport reflecting on this, and the fact that international students cannot go home for the weekend to recharge and their mom or dad cannot stop by to help them. 

Being a parent, and also experienced with helping international students choose the 'best fit' university for them, I have a few words of advice for parents to help make the move for their children to Canada easier and less stressful. 

       FOR STUDENTS

1.  Wash Clothes - Teach your child how to wash their clothes, and don’t send them with delicate items that need to be hand washed and hung to dry, or dry cleaned. Dry cleaning is expensive in Canada, and residences do not have room to hang clothes to dry. Try to keep the colour of their clothes similar – all dark, few whites. They will all be the same colour in the end. 

2.  Iron - To be honest, not a lot of university students iron their clothes, actually only about 1% and just for a presentation, so really not a priority. 

3.  Budget – Your child should learn how to live on a budget unless you have determined how to make it rain money. Because if they run out of money before you have wired the new money, life will be tough and in the end expensive for you. And teach them how to use a credit card. 

4.  Cook – Perhaps not a gourmet meal, but to boil water and make pasta and open a jar of sauce. Fry an egg. 

On a funny note, I met a Bangladeshis student who moaned about how he could not make a meal from ground beef because he did not have a meat grinder. When I explained that I did not either, and the meat he had seen in the grocer came minced; he was amazed. Seriously this is a bright young man, but he just didn't know!

5.  Health Care – Every international student has to pay for medical insurance in their tuition. Sometimes they need to print out the health card, sometimes not, but they should learn about their health insurance before they are ill and need it. 

6.  Ask for Help – When your child calls home to complain, cry or with a problem, listen, but then ask them who they have talked to at the school and what they have suggested. The International Student office is there for your child to help them adjust and be successful. 

Trust me, they won’t get off the plane and suddenly know how to do all of these things. Sometimes they don't want to learn anything making their transition more difficult

FOR PARENTS

1.  Address – Know what your child’s address is, even in residence. Learn the telephone number of the residence desk and have your child put your name on the list of people who can receive information about them. Every university requires a student over the age of 18 or 19 depending on the province to give permission for information to be shared. If you cannot contact your child for a few days and start to worry your only option will be to call the police. 

Last year, one of my clients, whose child had been saying that they were very depressed,  could not contact their child for a few days and had to resort to calling the police to learn if they were okay. 

2.  Academic Support – Your child will have trouble with their studies. They MUST contact the school for academic support. There are numerous tutoring opportunities, drop-in essay help, and many other ways the school can help them. They do not have to hire a tutor or do everything themselves. The student support centers will even help with time management and stress tips. 

3.  Depression - 1 in 5 university students experience depression. The school has advisors, counsellors and doctors to help. They must be a part of the treatment plan in case your child's depression impacts their studies. Doctors can prescribe medication if required and monitor them. 

4. Relax - Remember all the times they have wobbled and then learned how to stand up straight and tall. They will make it!

If they had stayed in-country and gone to school near you they still would have had struggles that are a part of going from adolescence to adulthood, but patience and guidance will keep them going. Don’t assume that their difficulties are only from being abroad. 

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