Preparing Kids for the First Year at College

28July 2021

High school graduation is now an almost distant memory and the summer is more than half over. Within a few short weeks, your almost grown child will be going away to college for the first time. It is a period of incredible change for the whole family. Here are some things to consider to make the initial transition easier.

Revisit the campus. Yes, you toured it but now you need to look at it again through a different perspective. You need to orient yourself about which buildings you will need to be at relative to each class, your housing, and various campus activities.

Organizing your kids

Convince your son or daughter that they must be organized. As parents you realize all the distractions and overwhelming activities that are involved especially in the first semester and how tempting it is to party instead of study. Downloading apps as tools or strategies may help. When you text, message or speak, gently remind (not nag) them about keeping on top of everything possible and don’t be upset when they are not.

Boring and difficult as it is, take the time to sit down together to plan a budget. There are a number of apps available to help out. Map out especially those items like chipping in for group pizza or off-campus shopping. Monitor all spending especially if this is the first time they have had a credit card.

Reinforce life skills like laundry. As a parent you need to stop doing things for your son or daughter. That means showing them how to do the basics like a simple crockpot meal or the laundry and gradually leave them to their own devices. This will encourage the self sufficiency they need to function well in the dorm or their own apartment.

Staying on target with homework and assignments will be one of the largest hurdles. There are digital tools that can help but remind them that they can ask for help. Many colleges offer assistance for brainstorming essay topics, tutors are an excellent resource, and a calendar (that is actually used) to write due dates. Don’t underestimate the amount of reading that will be required. If you already have some of the textbooks, start now.

Involvement in campus life is probably one of the easiest accomplishments. There will be lots of activities and groups already within their sphere of interest and far more that are tempting. Encourage your offspring to tackle only one at a time and to choose carefully. Check in periodically about what they are enjoying and people they have met.

Interpersonal relationships, particularly dating, will accelerate during these university years. Hopefully your child will come to you with stories and problems. Instead of trying to solve any issues, ask questions. See if you can guide them to a good decision without direct advice.

This will be an exciting and confusing time for everyone involved. Plowing your way through the ups and downs is just part of the entire experience. Try to roll with the flow as much as possible.

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