You’re a parent of a soon-to-be-college student, and you are probably feeling lots of spastic emotions right now. You’re hoping your student signed up for the right classes at orientation, you’re randomly asking yourself if you bought the XL twin bedsheets already, and you are fretting over if your child – er, student – should invest in a meal plan. Sally or Bob is begging to live off campus as soon as possible, because s/he will probably be too hip for the college scene, but you are just praying they graduate in the golden four years with minimal debt. Welcome to college, parents.
As an incoming student, I am still figuring many things out. My parents are prepared for my journey into college because my sibling has already endured the random worries and unexpected tribulations that infuse the college experience. So, equipped by a general idea of what you may be going through, as well as my own confusion, I have compiled the following list of things your child really needs right about now and during the first few months of school.
I am a huggy person. Your child may not be into hugs, but trust me, s/he will want to tap into the hug reservoir during those homesick nights.
All kids like money. However, what I mean by mentioning this is that students are often broke and need to have cash on hand to survive. Help them sort out how the ATM works so they can have access to cash when they go to sketchy drive-thrus with their friends. (It’ll happen sooner or later).
3. Care Packages
I’m talking chocolate bars, that special sauce they can ONLY get at your fave grocery store, and any other random items that are difficult to buy in a college town. Throwing in a cute card never hurts!
4. Financial Advice
One of my favorite things to do with my family is discuss finances. Perhaps my love of Suze Orman has finally flung into full force, because I like to ask about IRAs and checking accounts on a daily basis. Do your student a favor and teach them about how to budget and make good financial decisions. Also, it’s not a bad idea to discuss building credit in college with smaller “big” purchases such as textbooks and laptops, because without credit, your student won’t be able to make large purchases in the future. Goodbye dream house and first car…
Reassurance is a wonderful thing… it’s quick, it makes people feel awesome, and it’s FREE. College students are caught in this whirlwind of self-doubt, new situations, and challenging coursework. Your student needs you to be their cheerleader! Go ahead and let your student know that s/he is handling things just fine. Skype them with positivity. Be complimentary over a phone call. We all need a little help sometimes, especially when an entire lifestyle is changing.
So, college parents, keep on helping your students with this capstone transition into adulthood; it’s tough, but you can make it through!