Helping Your Child Prepare for Freshman Year of College

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It may seem like your son or daughter was just entering high school. Now they’re heading off to college. Time sure does fly.

Of course, you and your child probably have a long list of things that need to happen in order to make for a successful freshman year. If you’re wondering how you can best help him or her, perhaps this list can act as your guide. 

Helping Your Child Prepare for Freshman Year of College

  • Help With Their Packing List: One of the big tasks that need to be completed before your son or daughter heads off to college is deciding what needs to be packed. If your child will have a roommate, this means communicating with the roommate to discuss items that might be shared. Additionally, your child will need to decide what clothes, personal items, housewares, linens, and other things need to go with them. While you may want to sit down and create the list with them, ask them to take the lead and bring the list to you when they are finished. Then you can discuss together if things are truly needed or not.
  • Discuss a Budget and Finances: When your child heads off to college, this may be the first time they’ve truly been responsible for their own budget and finances. Make sure they clearly understand what their monthly budget looks like. Additionally, if they’ll have a credit card, let them know if you expect it to be used for only emergencies or if they are responsible for all charges. You might also discuss if they need to be looking for a part-time job or work-study position while at school. For the long-term, if they are taking out student loans, let them know the exact dollar amount of their loans and what re-payment will look like upon graduation.
  • Make Sure They Know About Their Medical Insurance: Your child may become sick while at school. Be sure to let them know how their medical insurance works. Do they need a referral to see certain doctors? Do they have a co-payment due at each doctor visit? Do they need to use the on-campus health center, or can they use a nearby doctor?
  • Make Sure They Can Perform “The Basics”: Does your child know how to do laundry? Cook some meals? Balance a checkbook? Clean? These may seem so basic to you as a parent, but if you’ve been doing these things for your child – they may have no idea what these tasks involve. Make them perform some of these basic tasks before they leave.
  • Let Them Handle Problems On Their Own: Your child may experience some problems while they’re at school. Difficult roommates, grades that they don’t agree with, and other hiccups may arise. While your natural instinct may be to step in and help, let them learn to problem solve and address difficult situations.
  • Encourage Them to Get Involved: It’s always assumed that making friends at college will be easy for your kids. But, that’s not always the case. Encourage your child to get involved with clubs and groups that fit their interests. This will allow them to make friends and help build a resume for post-graduation.
  • Show Them Support: The best thing you can do is support your child. Be there to listen and offer advice when needed. This will help them to flourish in their new surroundings.

If you have a child heading off to college this year, know that there will probably be some struggles. But, when you send off a well-prepared child and support them while they are away, you will be doing all you can to help them be successful.

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