5 Things Your High School Grad Should Know Before Starting College

You blinked and it happened. Your baby grew up and is leaving for college in a few short weeks. Your child has accomplished so much already and so many exciting opportunities await. As a parent, you may be having mixed feelings about sending your child away to college to live on their own. In your heart, you know your child is ready, but it feels like it was just a moment ago that you were packing their lunch for kindergarten. Your kid will do great. Nevertheless, you can ease your mind by having open and honest conversations about a few key topics which will help your child thrive while away at school.

What to do if they are sick

Your student may need to see a doctor (or possibly go to the ER) or a dentist while at college. If this occurs, they will need to be able to fill out a health history and may need information regarding their immunizations (date of last tetanus shot). They will also need to know how to fill medical prescriptions. All this can be intimidating for a student if they have never had to do it on their own, much worse if they are sick or injured. This may also be the first time your child is responsible for carrying their own health insurance card and need to pay co-pay’s. Have a conversation and let them know what to expect – they’ll thank you later.

How to manage money

College may be the first time your student has had the opportunity to manage a budget. Be transparent about how their education is being paid for. Have conversations about when and how money will be transferred to their account to avoid unpleasant surprises. Will you send spending money monthly or at the beginning of each semester? Set clear expectations regarding the use of a credit card if your child has one. Be clear with your student about what you will and will not pay for. Some parents have their children prepare a budget document detailing how much money they will need each trimester for things like food, books, rent, cell phone bill, gas and any other expenses.

How to do laundry and pack light

Living in a dorm room may be the first time your student has shared a bedroom. Dorm rooms are small and have very limited storage space. As your student considers what to pack for their college dorm, help them declutter and downsize the belongings they will no longer need and pack away high school keepsakes and mementos. Do this even if you are not turning their bedroom into a craft room – don’t let them leave their bedroom a cluttered mess until they come home for the holidays. If your student is not already proficient in doing their own laundry, now is the time to learn. The college will provide a list of what students are and are not allowed to bring into their dorms. Have a conversation about how to keep any expensive or irreplaceable belongings safe. If you child is living in an apartment, consider renter’s insurance.

What to do in emergencies

Talk to your child about what to do in emergencies. If your child is bringing a car to college they may need to know how to get help if the car breaks down. Let them know if their car insurance plan includes towing coverage, otherwise having AAA may be a good idea. Consider a car emergency kit. Talk to your student about how they will get in touch if their cell phone is lost or broken. Will you have access to their passwords? In an emergency, if you can’t be reached, who can your student get help from?

When to call mom and dad

Lastly, openly discuss what your family communication plan will be while your student is away from home. Will you have a specific day and time when you will check in with your student? Don’t forget to arrange a parent visit and plan when your child will come home to visit!

You child is ready for college. They will do great things. You have prepared them, and now the it’s up to them.



Photo: Juan Ramos on Unsplash

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