Last September, the Obama’s helped their eldest daughter, Malia, move to Harvard to begin her university career. Upon leaving her dorm, Barack likened the experience to “open-heart surgery”, reminding us that the transition from school to University is a significant one for both the student and parent.

The final years of formal education arguably have the greatest impact on our futures, but they also mark one of the periods of greatest change in our lives. The move from living at home or at boarding school to the independence of university away is a big one and not to be sniffed at. It means changes for your child, changes for you, and changes for your relationship.

This time of change can be an emotional one and it’s natural to feel some concern as to how your child will integrate into a new academic environment, let alone a new city, country, and culture. This is a hugely exciting time for a student, but it can also be daunting.

For most students, attending university is the first real step towards independence, when the tangible boundaries of childhood no longer apply, and you want them to feel confident and secure. When they move away, you no longer know where they are at any given moment. You have no idea with whom they are spending their time, what they are doing or how they are spending their money.

It’s natural to feel some trepidation at the prospect of your child leaving home, travelling abroad and living independently. It can be helpful to remember that, just as open-heart surgery requires careful preparation, an extensive procedure and a period of on-going observation and recovery, so the move of a child to university is a process and not something that happens all at once. So, it’s ok not to know exactly what to expect, to feel worried and to seek out help if you need it.