1. Discuss a College Budget
Now is the time to set expectations about what you will and won’t pay for. Phone bill? Groceries? Uber or Lyft rides? OK. Late-night meals? Nope. It’s never too soon to teach your college student money management skills — and how indulging all their whims will set them up for financial failure today and in the future.
2. Negotiate a Grades Policy
Be sure to discuss your expectations regarding grades. Download our form or execute one that your school provides (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires a student’s written permission to release grade reports, although parents may request access.
3. Talk About the Tough Stuff
Don’t let your child leave for their first year of college without having a few honest talks about the challenges they will encounter. Listen, don’t lecture. Talk about:
- Mental Health: remind your student that sleep is essential to their good health. In addition, social health is important to staying healthy – so encourage positive friendships through becoming involved with campus clubs, service projects or faith based activities. Anxiety and depression are endemic on college campuses. Nineteen percent of students have been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety in the past 12 months, and 15 percent of students have been treated for depression. More than 10 percent said they had seriously considered suicide. Make sure your child knows that mental health is important, that help is available, and that it’s OK to talk about any stress or anxiety they feel.
- Drugs and alcohol: Run through some scenarios. What does your child plan to do when drugs and alcohol are offered? What will they do when a friend is dangerously intoxicated? Also, does your child understand the consequences if they’re caught abusing drugs or drinking underage? And make sure they know, among the many other problems it causes, alcohol is at the center of more than one-third of all college academic problems.
- Sexual assault and consent: Whether you have a daughter or a son, you need to talk to them about understanding consent and staying safe.
4. Discuss Good Habits & Housekeeping
Does your child know how to…
- Remind your student to wash their dorm sheets. At least twice a month.
- Do laundry — e.g. pre-treat stains, separate colors and measure detergent?
- Be considerate and clean a kitchen and bathroom? (This is essential even if their dorm has housekeeping services.)
- Back up your digital files.
5. Write a Heartfelt Letter
It’s impossible to express your deep feelings of love, loss, pride and sadness in the whirlwind of move-in day. Instead, take the time to write a letter, says Marshall P. Duke, professor of psychology at Emory University. You can mail it, or slip it into your child’s bag. “It will not be deleted; it will not be tossed away; it will be kept. Its message will stick. Always.