The hard part is over. Your child has been accepted at the college of his/her choice and it will all be smooth sailing now. Or will it? Preparing for college can be a fun, frightening, anxious, enthusiastic time, and how well parents handle these weeks and months can make a big difference to how well the students themselves prepare. Whether you are delighted or devastated that your son or daughter is heading off to college, actually getting him/her there can be far less stressful with the right preparation.
Don’t Forget To Accept!
Often the letter informing your child of his/her acceptance at a college gets brushed aside in favour of the champagne flute. Even with all of the excitement, remain clearheaded and insist that you child immediately and formally accept a place at that college. This will help avoid any misunderstandings later on.
Formulate a Course of Study
When your son or daughter gets to college, they will attend information sessions and orientations about selecting their courses. Make sure that your child heads off to college with at least some idea of their term’s work by getting him/her to browse the old college prospectus or college website. When (s)he has some idea of the courses open in their first year, (s)he will be better able to focus on courses of interest, which will make a for a successful first term.
Find an Address
One of the most stressful parts of preparing for college can be deciding where to live. Before you begin the quest to find a perfect home away from home, take into consideration factors such as:
- How much rent you or your child can afford per week or per month.
- How close your child must be to the college.
- How close your child must be to the nearest shops and public transport.
- Which areas you deem safe and appropriate for your child.
A perfect solution to first year housing woes can be the halls of residence offered at colleges. Unfortunately not all colleges offer these, but there are many other housing options including:
- Private halls of residence near or attached to the college.
- Private apartments/houses owned by parents as investment properties.
- Rented apartments/houses.
- Studio flats.
- Bedsits/lodging with a local family.
- Living with a host family.
- Living at home.
If this is your son or daughter’s first time living away from home, you will most likely need to read over any lease (s)he may need to sign, and sometimes even sign yourself as a guarantor.
The weeks leading up to college can seem like a virtual shopping spree, but this is normal. Remember that your child will likely need to shop for an entire term, so encourage them to browse for the best prices for items such as:
- Personal care items (toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.).
- Stationary (pencils, pens, notebooks, folders, etc.).
- Small electronics (desk lamp, alarm clock, electrical leads, etc.).
- Sheets and towels.
- Laundry bag and laundry soap.
- First aid kit and over the counter medicines (aspirins, cold tablets, etc.).
- Mobile phone and/or landline phone.
- Larger electronics (laptop, television, microwave, etc.).
- Ways to stay in touch (envelopes and stamps, phone cards, etc.).
An important part of preparing for college can be making sure your child has all of the serious information (s)he will need, particularly about health and finances. In the weeks leading up to college, help your child:
- Find and keep their medical insurance card.
- Write up a family medical history for new GPs or health clinics.
- Open a bank account.
- Plan a budget.
- Apply for a credit card, or a card on your account, in case of emergencies.
- Master a few healthy recipes.
- Explore methods of stress relief (exercise, yoga, or even a favourite hobby).
Preparing for college will be a bittersweet time for students and parents alike. The more organised you are, the less frustrating and emotional this time will become. Above all else, remember that this is a time your child will remember forever, so do all that you can to make it rewarding and reassuring. Good luck!