Sending a child to college is a monumental marker, like starting Kindergarten. Nothing quiet prepares a parent for the first, second, or youngest child to embark on this new beginning. A few tips can help the transition, both for parents and child.
- Find out what really is needed for college life on your child’s campus. Dorm life varies significantly between colleges. Talk to a student from the college or the dorm’s RA to see what’s really needed for dorm life. It will spare extra expenses on big items you won’t really need.
- Find out the internet security procedures for incoming students. Some colleges require students to purchase a particular security program, or to have their computer scanned by the college’s IT department before connecting to the college’s internet provider.
- Get your child connected with social media communities for incoming freshman at their college. Many colleges have a Facebook or other social media group where kids can connect and meet before they arrive on campus.
- Talk about the frequency of trips home with your child. Kids experience a wide range of adjustments when starting at college. When is it appropriate for them to come home? Every other weekend? Once a month? Only on vacations? These factors are important to help apprehensive teens adjust to college life. On the other hand, if your child is farther away and gets extremely homesick, what are their options for coming home before that first fall break? When will your family visit them? These are good conversations to have.
- Discuss expectations about what you pay for and what they are expected to pay outside of tuition and room and board. Who pays for gas? Extra food and social items? Trips to the doctor? Their phone? Books? Incidental supplies? Talk about these things ahead of time.
- Think about how much do you want them to contact you. Do you want to receive texts about every experience they’re having with their roommate? A weekly phone call? Or just when they need you? With instant access across them miles, consider what’s most appropriate for you and your child at this stage.
- Don’t helicopter around your child. Let them grow up. It’s just that simple. This article explains why.
- Make sure your teen know where support services are on campus—counseling, medical needs, academic, and technical support. They’ll need them.
- Be honest about the dangers of college life—drugs, alcohol, sexual assault, even apathy about school work.
- Open your hands and let go. Even if you don’t do half of the things on this list, your child will figure things out. Many kids go through their college experience completely on their own. They survive, and thrive.
Now it’s time for you to enjoy the child in which you’ve invested. It’s all part of the new process called life.
What additional tips would you add?
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