Parental Tips for Freshman College Bound Students
Congratulations, parents— you survived the teen years and now your high school graduate is headed to college. The first year of transition is the hardest. There’s still much to be done (as if the entire college planning process, ACT’s, SAT’s etc. weren’t enough.) But keep in mind, you’re in the home stretch and it’s not as if you are dropping your firstborn off in a basket out in the big RW (Real World.) You are just taking them to college. Never the less, to help with the anxiety here is a list of some things to remember.
- First, embrace the attitude. Chances are your student’s nerves are already a bit frazzled at the thought of leaving home and being on their own. Go easy on their perpetual mindset that they know more than you do. They are merely trying to spread their wings.
- Have the discussions—you know the ones about all the expectations:
- How much money you will be helping them with and how often. Have them make a budget and make them stick to it.
- Teach them about time-management – how they can go to class, study, and still have time for fun.
- Talk about the legal drinking age, college parties, and the consequences of underage drinking.
- Help them make a list of go-to people. Include where they get help for academics, health, financial aid, etc.
- Go over what you expect from them when they return home on college breaks. Remember the dynamics will be changing for all family members in the household.
- Schedule all the doctor, dentist, and eye appointments before they leave to make sure they have eyeglasses, contacts, and medical prescriptions they may need.
- If your student agrees, have them sign the necessary paperwork that allows you to see their grades and have access to their college account. Remember, once your student is 18 years old, the college is under no obligation to provide you with your student’s academic or financial information even if you are paying the bill.
- Make sure they know the basics about banking and have access to an ATM/Debit Card.
- Do not send them to college with precious heirlooms or sentimental belongings. There’s a good chance they may be stolen or left behind.
- Do not send them off with personal documents like birth certificates, or social security cards, as they may be stolen, misplaced, or lost. If they haven’t already, now is a good time for your student to memorize their social security number.
- Make sure they have a First Aid Kit and go over the remedies for common illnesses (e.g. common cold, fever, migraine, etc.)
- Get them a good lock for their bike if they have one, make sure they know how to navigate public transportation, and/or make sure they are up-to-date on auto insurance, tags, driver’s license etc. if they have their own car.
- Scan the surrounding area with them for grocery stores and coffee houses that they might like to frequent.
- It’s a good idea to teach them basic cooking skills like how to make eggs, toast, or noodles.
- Encourage them to get involved with intramural sports or other campus groups and activities.
- Make plans for the winter holiday break as soon as possible to avoid last minute problems. Some campuses do not allow stay-overs during breaks. Check with the college on dates and rules.
- Encourage them not to over pack for the dorm. They will not need 20 pairs of shoes. They will need bedding like a mattress pad (twin XL), sheets, towels, laundry bag or basket, laundry soap pods (they’re easier to carry.) Most colleges have a checklist of what to bring and you can always send a care package once they are settled.
Above all, know that most students will make the best of what they have and survive to talk about it. Parents on the other hand, might struggle a bit with the emotions of letting go. Keep in mind your student will not be leaving forever. They are just starting what will hopefully be an amazing journey into adulthood. Take a deep breath and let them be the awesome person you raised them to be.
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