Helping your Child Head Off to College

19670917_MDo you have a child leaving home to go to college? Even if you went away to school yourself, many things have changed. Here are some issues to address with your child to ensure that he or she is well prepared.

Space: Your son/daughter will want to bring pretty much everything they own with them to college, but most dorm rooms are cramped, and shared with at least one roommate.

Check the college website for a list of things to bring, and an idea of the amount of space available. Less is definitely better. For example, instead of bringing clothes for every season, students could bring what’s needed until the next vacation, and switch clothes out as it gets colder or warmer. Encourage your child to connect with a future roommate so that they end up with only one microwave and small refrigerator.

Security: Theft is more common than you would think in college dorms, so plan on creating secure options for your child. Laptop computers can be locked to a desk when not in use, and a locked file cabinet provides a safe place for purses, money and credit cards. You may want to arrange for a prepaid credit card for your child, adding money as it’s needed, to minimize the risk of loss. Encourage your child to lock his or her dorm room, and remind them of other security issues such as personal safety.

Health: Make sure your child has a physical before heading off for college, and have any prescriptions transferred to the local pharmacy. Pack up a box of over-the-counter items your child is used to having available to send along. You might include some favorite granola or energy bars – kids often don’t pay as much attention to eating when at school.

Preparation: College students have to handle laundry and general dorm-room cleaning. Start them on their laundry now, so they are comfortable managing that. Include laundry detergent and basic cleaning supplies and go over cleaning and home hygiene basics. Also mention food safety issues such as how long a cheese sandwich is safe to eat when not refrigerated.

You will miss your child and your child will miss you, but this is only the first step in the path to adulthood. You can send them off with the tools and support they need, and be extra generous with your advice so they won’t miss you as much as they thought they would.