When Your Son Leaves for College

From the Rancho Mirage model at Oasis at Queen Creek

From the Rancho Mirage model at Oasis at Queen Creek

It’s complicated but fun getting your daughter ready to go away to college, but it’s trickier with a son. While your daughter is likely to enjoy planning her dorm room’s décor, most boys, particularly in high school, have no interest in anything related to decorating, and wouldn’t admit it if they had.

So what do you do to make sure he’s ready without adding to the trauma of leaving home and living on his own for the first time ever? Here are a few suggestions to make it easier for both of you.

Focus on the basics: These include warm bedding, clean clothes, hygiene and first aid supplies, as well as adequate lighting and storage. Chances are you’ve taken care of all these things over the years, so it’s quite possible that your son won’t realize what he needs until he needs it. It’s your job to get him ready, and to educate him on what you’ve been taking care of for him.

Bedding: Look for sheet sets. Most dorm rooms offer long single beds, so look for that size when shopping. Places such as Bed, Bath & Beyond and Target are gearing up for the go-to-college set, so you should have a good selection of options available. If your son is going to school in an area that experiences cold winters, be sure to include a blanket as well as a warm bedspread. There are no guarantees that dorms are warm.

Laundry: If your son is not familiar with doing laundry, take the time for a basic tutorial. Pack laundry detergent and plan for at least a month’s worth of underwear, because no college kid does laundry more often than that. Be sure to include a laundry bag rather than a basket – a bag is easier to store and haul around.

First aid: Include band aids and any over-the-counter items that your son is used to having on hand. Find an easy container to hold it all in one place.

Lighting: Many dorms have fair lighting, but a lamp with task lighting is a useful accessory. Look for something simple and light enough to move around as needed.

Storage: Dorm closets are small, so consider some under-bed storage for extra sweaters, etc.

Don’t worry about music and other technology. Your son will probably be on top of that too. And don’t make gender assumptions. You may have a boy that really cares about what that bedspread looks like, or a daughter who just doesn’t care. Either way, follow these guidelines to ensure that your child, whether male or female, is ready to make that leap away from home.

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.