Are you ready for your child to go to college?

As the school year winds to a close, high school seniors anticipate college in the fall.  Colleges usually have (hidden somewhere on their website) a list of things to bring.  Some also include a list of things not to bring.

A few things I’ve learned, and pass along as we’re preparing to send our third child off to college:

Bedding & Towels – dorms usually have extra-long beds that require extra-long bedding.  You can shop around to find what you need, or you can order online.  With our first, we started out shopping around, but ended up ordering from Residence Hall Linens because we still saved money despite duplicating a few early purchases.  This is now the third time we’ve used RHL, and the third time we have been pleased with the service.  At checkout, there’s an option to upgrade to 300-count sheets instead of 200-count; the cost is nominal compared to the increase in quality. Do it.  Just go look at the pictures, let your student choose what color sheets, comforter, and towels to get, and wait for the box to arrive.  Some colleges will let you have this box shipped directly to the college, but if you get it now, to your house, then you can launder everything before it is used.

Laundry – first, make sure your student knows how to sort and launder clothes.  Next, do not waste money on a laundry bin.  Buy three king-size pillow cases:  one white, one navy, and one medium-shade (your choice).  As dirty clothes are removed, they can be sorted straight into the appropriate pillow case.  When the pillow case is full, it’s time to wash that load of clothes.  Toss the pillow case into the washer, too (after removing all the dirty clothes), so that it is clean and can be used to take clean clothes back to the dorm room.  Note:  some dorms have coin-op laundry facilities, and some take a credit card. Make sure your student will be able to pay to run the machines.

Clothes –  Maybe this should be a continuation of laundry.  Buy enough socks and underwear that your student doesn’t have to wash tiny loads on a weekly basis.  Get three or four weeks’ worth of undies & socks so that 1) your student can spend time studying, and 2) your student doesn’t waste money running a 1/4 load every week.

Adult Responsibilities – As our children become a adults, there are some basic things we have to teach them:

  • register to vote
  • get/renew a passport – it can be much easier now than in the future, and a passport is an excellent piece of identification/proof of citizenship (proof of citizenship is very important to employers) even for those who don’t ever have any desire to travel
  • designate a medical power of attorney – when your child gets sick, nobody will be able to give you information and you won’t be allowed to make decisions on your adult child’s behalf; a medical power of attorney is very important
  • make a will
  • Sign a HIPAA waiver so that the college & any doctors will be able to discuss your child’s health with you.  Some colleges have these on their website.
  • how to fill out medical paperwork – make sure your child knows (or has access to) family medical history and knows how to complete paperwork for doctors & dentists

Expectations – Students who assume full adult responsibilities should expect to be treated as adults.  Students who are still financially dependent on their parents should recognize that there are probably strings attached to tuition payments.  Make sure your student knows what you expect in terms of class attendance, grades, and behavior.  Do you expect your student to do any under-age drinking?  What do you expect your student to do if drugs and/or alcohol show up when they’re at a gathering of friends?  Students have a better chance to succeed if they know what their goals are.  They have a better chance of avoiding temptation and peer pressure if they’ve been taught how to handle those situations.  Give them the tools they need to succeed!

Studying – College courses cram one full year of high school material into one college term.  Students should expect to spend at least three hours studying for every hour spent in class.  Some classes require less studying, but some require more.  A student carrying 15 credits can anticipate 45 hours of homework outside the classroom.  Students should be ready to treat learning material for college as a full-time job.

To be ready for our students to leave home, we need to make sure they are well prepared.

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