Where did the time go? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were cradling your baby in your arms, having just come home from the hospital? Now they are finishing their final year of high school and preparing to venture off to college. The feeling is surreal!
First off, congratulations parents! Congratulations on raising a wonderful child who has blossomed into a young adult, ready to take on the world. Before you send your not-so-little one flying from the nest, there are things you should go over with them so they have all the skills to be successful and thrive during their college years and beyond.
Once your teen is on their own, they will definitely need to know how to manage their money. They will have basic living expenses, plus other incidentals that arise such as going out to eat with friends, entertainment, etc. Have a nice chat with your teen to discuss how they will have money coming in (will they need to take on a part time job or will you be giving them an allowance to budget each month?). Then, discuss all of the ways that money needs to be divided and figure out, together, how much they’ll need in each of those categories to survive. Encourage your teen to track their expenses so they stay on track financially each month. This avoids money shortages and financial pitfalls that plague many people who are just starting out.
If your teen is living in a dorm on campus, chances are pretty high that they’ll have at least one roommate that they will be sharing a tight space with. They’ll need to be mindful of that other person and keep their items neat, organized, and on their side of the room. Also, when it comes to classes, attendance is vital to your teen’s success. When they are on their own, they might be tempted to sleep in or skip a class thinking it’s no big deal and that they’ll play catch up. Remind them that isn’t how it works in college. They won’t get yelled at by the instructor, but their grades will suffer. If your teen has a hard time waking in the morning, encourage them to enroll in classes that are later in the day so they start off on the right foot from day one.
Your teen will also need to take care of their daily living needs on their own, such as doing their laundry. It may sound silly, but some teens have never had to put on a load of laundry. Make sure this is a skill that is under their belt before they head off. Knowing how to sort clothes and what temperatures to wash them in will be very beneficial. Does your teen have a kitchen where they will need to prepare their own meals? Teach them a few basics so they will be able to follow recipes and prepare a meal on their own. Remember, they are used to relying on you for these types of things their whole life thus far so this is all new territory for them.
Will your student have a vehicle on campus? Review with them the basics of car maintenance and safety. Let them know it’s crucial not to skip oil changes or put them off. After all, it’s cheaper to change your oil than your engine! If warning lights come on or the vehicle starts making funny noises, let them know how you would prefer they handle it (take it to a mechanic, call you, call roadside assistance, etc.).
Everything is new and exciting when teens first arrive on campus. They may hear of parties going on, festivals taking place, football tailgating, and so on. Let them know which of these activities you are comfortable with them attending and stress that their safety is your biggest concern. There will be a lot of temptations all around them when they go off to college, so it’s very important that they have the tools needed to avoid them or act responsibly. It’s wise to remind them that no matter what situation they are in, they are always able to call home and you will help them. There’s nothing worse than being in a bad situation and feeling like you can’t reach out to the people who can help you.
Medical Needs and Emergencies
There are bound to be times where your teen will need to see a doctor. Make sure they have a copy of the insurance card and know ahead of time what doctors they are approved to see. It’s a wise idea to make sure that their new doctor is listed as their primary doctor with insurance so that when it comes time for a doctor appointment, they don’t run in to any roadblocks. Also, discuss what hospital they should go to in case of emergency and make sure they know where it is. You could also find out what pharmacies are nearby so they know where to get prescriptions filled, should they need to.
In the unfortunate event that an emergency does arise, like a fire, accident, etc, give your teen a list of emergency contacts, including the number for poison control, the campus police, their doctor/hospital, and their Resident Assistant. Preparing a small first aid kit for them is also a nice thing to do so they’ll be equipped for any headaches, scrapes, and fevers.
Are You Ready?
Now that you have prepared your teen for all of these various situations and daily living scenarios, the question remains: are YOU ready? You may have mixed emotions about your baby going off to college, but just think of the exciting journey they are about to embark on! You have to trust that up until this point, you have given them the skills needed to be successful for life after graduation. Always remember, you will be there like a safety net should they fall or need help.
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