This time of year is full of hustle and bustle for families with a child taking off for college for the first time. Between the trips to Walmart and Bed, Bath and Beyond, there is little time to sort out the emotions for parent and child alike. Here are some practical tips on how to make sure your child –and you! – are well-prepared for this transition.
1. Financial Savvy. Sit down with your child and go over a budget on expenses she will incur at college. Let her set up her online college account where she will likely choose a meal plan, “extra bucks” (which many schools offer), housing plan, etc. Decide on how much extra spending money she will need for incidentals each month. You can always adjust as the year goes on.
Make sure your son or daughter can manage a bank account with checks, a debit card and a credit card.
2. Household Chores. It is important that students leaving home can keep their new surroundings neat and clean. Thus, familiarity with a vacuum or dustbuster, iron, and washing machine and dryer should be mastered this summer, if not already. Knowing how to cook a few basic meals will come in handy in the years to come.
3. Packing List. Most colleges provide a packing list of things students use in their rooms. But how much and what type of clothing? Your student should think about how casual or formal social events are at their school, things to buy if the climate is a lot different than home, etc. I would advise not taking too many clothes (hard to gauge how much storage space is in a dorm room) and adjust later in the semester as needed.
4. Emotional Adjustment. This is an exciting time for your child, but even the student who has been dying to “get out of Dodge” for several years may become a little quiet and anxious as the date of the big send-off approaches. Give them space and quietly let them know you are there for them. Be confident that the young adult you have raised will make sound, healthy choices.
5. Saying Goodbye. This is never easy. Fortunately or unfortunately, most colleges make this easier by sponsoring separate activities for students and families on move-in day. By mid-afternoon, after you have carried luggage, fans, computers, etc. up a few flights of stairs and you are dying to enjoy a cold drink in the shade with your child, the RA’s round up the freshman for a student-only orientation event. No time for anything but a quick hug!
I leave you with a great article for students on how best to take advantage of those college years: