Sending a child off to school for the first time is a daunting proposition. Parents the world over dread it, not just because it represents a permanent shift in the parent-child relationship, but also because it means their kid will be independent for the first time ever.
There are ways you can help your student prepare for the changes ahead. In this article, we look at tips to help college students prepare for school.
One of the realities of college life is that mom and dad aren’t there to do things for you the way they used to. For many college students, this means that they will be solely responsible for taking care of themselves for the first time in their lives.
Does your child know how to do their own laundry? If not, the time to learn is now. A staggering number of college-aged freshmen find themselves in a subterranean laundry room, scratching their heads at the prospect of figuring out where to put the soap.
You don’t want that to be your kid.
While your instinct may be to parent and pamper them as much as you can while you still have the chance, now is a great time to start giving them new responsibilities. They’re going to be doing laundry sooner or later. Best to get them started on it now while you are there to offer guidance.
The extent to which college students prepare their own food will vary. Of course, there are meal plans. However, they are very pricey, and often not entirely comprehensive. Most school meal plans max out at 15 meals a week, which means kids who are used to three square meals a day might be in a bit of a pickle.
Teaching your college-aged student the basics of food prep will give them the chance to save a little bit of money on their meal plan, and pick up an important life skill in the process. Naturally, it’s a good idea to tailor your lessons in a direction most similar to the specifics of dorm cooking.
Most likely, your child will not have access to a large refrigerator or sophisticated cooking equipment. However, if they know how to make simple things (eggs, pasta, etc.) they will be able to provide food for themselves whenever necessary.
Now is also a good time to emphasize proper nutrition so that your student can take care of their own health and wellness. Right now, you are probably making the majority of their dietary choices simply because you cook their food. When they go to college, that will change.
The freshman fifteen is real, but with a little bit of awareness, it is also avoidable.
Sad fact? Very few college students leave school knowing how to make a budget. Naturally, even fewer go in with any concrete understanding of personal finance. It’s almost paradoxical. On the one hand, the student is borrowing more money than they will until it’s time to buy a house. On the other hand, they have no awareness whatsoever of how to manage the loan.
By teaching your college-aged child about personal finance, you equip them with the skills they will need to not only keep themselves out of trouble in school but also out of it.
A Longer Leash
This one will be tough. Especially for parents who have historically kept a close eye on their kids’ personal lives. Here’s the thing, for better or worse your child will soon be making all of their decisions independently.
You may not like all of these decisions. That won’t stop them from happening. Rather than trying to influence your kid’s decisions from hundreds of miles away, you should probably start to give them a longer leash right now.
Why? The main reason is that they need to get in the habit of making personal decisions. At home, the stakes are lower than they will be in school. You may not want your child to experiment with sex and alcohol, but here’s the thing: if they do it under your roof, they can learn their lessons in a safe, controlled environment.
Once your child goes away to college, you won’t have the same opportunity to offer your advice and guidance. No matter what they are going to have freedom sooner or later. Give it to them now, and they may have a better idea of how to use it when they finally get to college.
Scary though things may seem right now, it’s important to remember that this is ultimately going to be a change for the best. Your college-aged student needs space to grow into who they will be as an adult. This means having the opportunity to be independent.
No matter how much prep work you do, there will inevitably be things you wish you said. Take a breath, and relax. Your student will be ok, and you will be too.