Scholastic preparation for college begins at least by a teenager’s junior year in high school. It is pretty intense, to say the least. On top of junior year in and of itself being a very difficult year academically … add on the college prep and we have ourselves a pretty stressed out teenager. There are many necessities when it comes to getting your junior ready for college. Some of these include SAT/ACT prep and test-taking, choosing a (few) college(s), college visits, college applications, and financial aid applications. A well-informed, thoroughly detailed high school counselor is your greatest weapon during this time … seek them out! But this is just the beginning!
Once the details of actually choosing and getting into college are completed, another equally but maybe even more important phase takes place: transitioning from a high school to a college student. There are a number of things to consider for a child in this phase. It seems that the more conversations that are had with this child about what to expect in the near future, the smoother the transition.
The following are just a few suggestions of ideas / topics / random thoughts … that might help you and your child navigate with confidence and security through this phase.
- Most of these suggestions revolve around one thing: expectations. It is crucial that you and your college-bound child discuss expectations for this next adventure in life. Taking time to have a conversation about expectations will alleviate many roadblocks in both you and your child’s college experience.
- A budget. This might be the most difficult topic but once a college-bound student knows the details of his/her college budget, they feel free. They know how much money they have and if they come up with their own budget, they can hold themselves accountable for what they spend. Mom and Dad might need to draw up a sample itemized spreadsheet of expenses for them to consider then they can add or take away from this list. Nonetheless, once completed, then the parents and students are all on the same page
- Now that they see their money might be a little bit tight, here is where you can give them a few more suggestions: where would be a good place to work? What would a weekly grocery list look like and how often and where should I eat out? How can I save money?
- Important phone numbers. It’s a good idea to have one or two phone numbers of a person at their college who you could call if you did not hear from your child over a certain number of days. It even helps to talk about this… “when should I get worried … when I don’t hear from you after _____number of days?” In addition, it helps if you give your child the following: doctor numbers, a copy of your insurance card(s), nearby After Hours Clinics, a pharmacy that you use, and your designated relatives or friends’ numbers if your child cannot reach you in an emergency
- Time Management: great time management lessons are learned in college! Ask your child if he needs some help in this area once his/her classes are set. Make a coffee date if they need more than just advice on this. For some students, this is a real struggle, and they need a little hand-holding so they can succeed and thrive on their own.
- Staying in touch: a few good questions to ask are what is the best time of day for me to call and not call you? When would you like to come home for dinner, lunch, or just to visit? Would you want to meet for coffee every once in a while? Although your college student might not be signing up immediately for these dates with you …. the message is this: I want to be a part of your life.
- Hurricane evacuation plan. What are your plans if there is a hurricane (for those who don’t live at home)?
- Power of Attorney. A friend highly recommended getting POA for each of my adult children in case of a medical emergency. If you want to know what is wrong with your child when they are 18 and in the ER, this is necessary for the medical world to speak with you.
- A few random items if you think are necessary:
- Drinking guidelines: At this age, exposure to alcohol varies across the board. It is never too late to give some drinking guidelines as you see fit and also discuss “what could happen” if some of these guidelines are not respected.
- Family Codeword: some families use this. If you are in trouble use this code word ________when you call and I will come right away … no questions asked.
- Home visits for those that live away and return home:
- Will there be a curfew?
- Where will you sleep (if mom found another use for your room) 😊
Although not exhaustive, these are a few things to consider when your child is transitioning from high school junior/senior to college freshman. Although our adult children in many ways seem “all set,” most are not. They often still need your help, your guidance, and the security to know that you have their back in an emergency. Most importantly, they need to know that, even though they are now adults and away at school, you want to make the time to continue to have a relationship with them.
Disclaimer: Certainly, there are many more things to consider on this topic! We welcome your input in the comments section!