A Guide to Becoming a College Student: 15 Practical Parenting Tips

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: May 6, 2013

Between the years 2000 and 2010, enrollment in degree-granting institutions increased 37 percent to 21 million students, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. What does this tell you? You're not alone planning ahead to get your child ready for college. There are numerous resources at your fingertips and here are some practical and specific suggestions for parents to get you started.

Planning Should Cover Four Categories:

  • Personal finance and management
  • Academic expectations
  • Emotional support resources
  • Communication methods

Your Child's Major Needs and Responsibilities

Being inclusively practical, anticipate what your child’s major needs and responsibilities will be. You can then address such with these suggestions:

  1. Designate how (by email, texting, webcam, etc.) and when (every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 p.m.) your child will check in; although the specifics can later be changed, the important thing is to establish a routine.
  2. Sign your child up for the most convenient/dependable electronic services (e.g., a portable broadband subscription assures 24/7 Internet accessibility).
  3. Show your child how to set up and stick to a budget. Try an online budget system like Mint or BudgetTracker.
  4. Help your child get the most appropriate type of plastic: a secured credit limited by a savings account may be best to start with, or sign them on as an “authorized user” for one of your credit cards. As they show responsibility, they may then apply for a low-credit limit charge card.
  5. Don’t give your child too much money, either in credit or cash. Excessive money encourages partying, shopping and other dangerous things.
  6. Compile a list of what the child should take when they move to the campus. This may require some negotiating and should focus on what the school allows/recommends and what the student will actually need.
  7. Teach your child how to do laundry properly.
  8. Develop a mutual expectation of academic performance: how many credits/classes to attempt each semester, what is an acceptable grade point average, etc.
  9. Have an honest talk about safety issues/concerns; girls, for example, should not go out at night by themselves and both sexes must abstain from drugs and alcohol — if they expect financial support from you.
  10. Educate your child about the dangers of cyber crimes, especially identity theft. Specific solutions include signing up for Lifelock identity theft service, not giving away personal information (including social networking sites) and always be cautious while online.
  11. Don’t be intimidated into giving your child a vehicle they may not need or which may lead to irresponsible/dangerous behavior.
  12. Gather/share with your child important contact information at the college for potential emergencies.
  13. Coordinate meaningful family activities for the months preceding the move; this will hopefully reduce anxieties.
  14. Develop and type up a “possible emergencies & what to do about them” list.
  15. Establish and stick to rules of behavior your child will be expected to abide by while away and when they come back to visit.

You can help your child do well in school by removing distractions, helping them manage their own problems and encouraging them to use all the resources at their disposal, including school counseling services. By mapping out what to do before the move, you can make sure all your child will have to worry about is being on time for class, doing her homework, meeting new friends and passing all her classes.

Topics: College Counseling


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