The more you prepare your student for college the better both of you will feel. Needy students calling needy parents is not a good combination. Below are some helpful Do’s and Don’ts to help you and your student prepare for the what-ifs:
Do’s: Take into consideration all three aspects of your student’s well-being.
Do take into consideration their physical needs:
Ensure they will have ample food. Understand the meal plan thoroughly. No one wants a hungry college student!
You know your student and their habits, guide them along the path of finding the right roommate. Just because they’ve been best friends forever does not guarantee a compatible living experience.
Explain to them the process on campus in case of illness. Give them all documents, insurance cards, etc., that may be needed.
Test the phone coverage. If phone coverage is not satisfactory, call the carrier first (sometimes you need to reset the tower connection to the school’s location), but if that doesn’t fix the issue, you may consider an alternate solution. The ability to make contact is very important during these years, especially the first few months.
Do take into consideration their emotional needs:
Talk to your student about expectations prior to leaving home. Once at school, keep the line of communication open with them and if they begin to close down, have a discussion with their RA. The RA’s job is to keep an eye on their floor, hold them accountable.
Encourage involvement. This helps loneliness and helps your student to meet others.
Allow your student to grow, explore and find their way (Note: not your way). The hardest thing is to suddenly see your student as an adult and let them make their decisions. They will make a few bad decisions, but generally they learn fast!
Keep an eye out for signs of depression, loneliness, etc. Everyone handles change differently and in different time frames. I used these types of situations to help my son learn how to navigate stress, loneliness and feelings of depression. It can be a positive!
Visit a local church with them or the service on campus. Help break the ice for them. This will make the transition easier.
Encourage them to get involved in a small group (maybe find a local, off-campus church).
Don'ts: These are simple, but very hard:
Don’t nag – their laundry will eventually get done!
Don’t forget they are an adult and let them make some of their decisions.
Don’t start your sentences with “You should have” or “I told you.”
Instead use, “Have you considered” or “How can I help” (when they mess up). Getting angry at their mistakes will only drive them away.
Give them space to grow, I promise they will come back quicker than if you didn’t.
Nita lives in St. Louis, Missouri, and is a lover of books, travel and laughter. Currently, she enjoys watching as her college-aged son navigates school, work, rugby and Improv.
Click here to download a printable spiritual plan template you and your student can use to for the college experience.