6 Tips for Sending Your Child Off to College
It’s that time of year again – the start of the school season! If your child is heading to college this year, it can be overwhelming for both parents and the child, but it doesn’t have to be. With good planning and preparation, the start of college can be fun and exciting. Here are six ideas we suggest to help the process go more smoothly:
- Encourage your child to reach out to their roommate before move-in day.
Realizing you will be living away from your parents with a stranger can be very frightening. You and your child likey know nothing about who they will be living with, their likes and dislikes. Encouraging your child to connect with his or her paired roommate can ease the nervousness and help with planning.
Your child should find out what their roommate is bringing that they can share and not each haul (like a microwave). Have them ask about their future roommate’s interests, such as hobbies, music, and TV shows. Getting a background of who your child will be living with for the next nine months can help for a smoother transition.
- Help your child set up a budget.
The first year of college is your child’s first experience out in the real world. They are in charge of how much money they spend and what they spend it on and you, as a parent, are not around to manage it for them. Before they head off to college, sit down and talk about managing their money and what credit cards are all about. Teaching your child this early in their adult life can spare many headaches later on.
- Don’t buy expensive home goods for their room.
As a parent, you may have a vision for your child’s college dorm room. Buying the expensive comforter for the bed and high-end plates and dishes sound like a great idea but let’s face it – everyone in college shares everything. The plates and dishes will get lost or broken. All of your child’s friends will be sitting on their bed. Things will get dirty and destroyed. Save your money and purchase less expensive items for the first year and see how it goes.
- Purchase lots of storage containers.
Storage containers have many uses in a college dorm room. It will make move-in day a lot easier when you are carrying everything to the room. It also allows for more space in the dorm to store things like non-perishable food items, toiletries, and books. You can never have too many storage containers.
- Start planning for care packages.
If you are the type of parent that likes to send their child care packages, it’s never too early to start collecting items. Send them things that they need and gifts that remind them of home. Here is a list of care package item ideas to consider:
- Non-perishable food.
- Gifts that remind them of home from a local gift shop, such as Grandpa Shorter’s.
- Upcoming holiday-themed gifts.
- Pictures of family or their hometown.
- Talk about rules to be followed when they come home to visit.
Now that your child is off on their own in the real world, the rules and expectations may have changed. They no longer have a curfew when they are living at college. Do they have one when they come home to visit? Are they responsible for washing their own clothes? Talking about these things before they come home for the first time can save both parties headaches and arguments.
Sending your child off to college is a new chapter in both your child’s life and your own life as a parent. Preparing for this significant change before move-in day can make a big difference for everyone.