As much as it might be hard for parents to let go, we do actually want our kids to be independent. Teenagers definitely want to be independent. Before my son moved to college I had a conversation with him about the challenges that are ahead for him, but also how everything he needs to be successful is right there on campus, even if he has to be persistent and work through the system. There are a few things that we parents can do to make sure our college students are setup for success before we drive away from campus on move-in day.
Meal Plan and Dining Hall Hours
Make sure your college student understands their meal plan and the hours the dining hall is open. My son has a meal plan that allows him to eat as much as he wants in as many visits as he wants while the dining hall is open. We got a call one-night asking advice on how to cook something he had in his fridge. He didn’t go to the dining hall because he didn’t know it was open until 9 pm.
We purchased a parking pass for our son which allows him to park in a lot nearby his dorm building. It also allows parking in some of the other lots if necessary. Knowing where a student is able to park can avoid expensive parking tickets.
After a student gets their books a few times, they get the hang of it. But that first time walking through the bookstore looking for the books they need for class can be intimidating. Book selection and a purchase were a great activity to do with our first-semester college student, plus it gave my wife and I peace of mind that he was ready for classes.
Most college dormitories now have wired, wireless, or both connections to the internet. Getting the information to help get connected before leaving can ensure a student feels more at home and has the power and information of the internet at their fingertips. This is no longer just a convenience, but a necessity to be successful in college.
College students will have their own garbage in their dorm rooms, but what does one do with it when the garbage is full? Knowing where students take their trash is one less thing students need to worry about.
Help your college student find the laundry room, and figure out together how the machines work. If quarters are needed, make sure you leave them with a roll or two. College students do laundry at strange hours. While I am already wishing my son would call home more, getting a phone call at midnight to discuss how to do laundry is something I’d like to avoid.
We can communicate via Skype, email and text message, but sometimes we might want to send a physical package to a college student. They need to know where their mailbox is, and how to open it.
Part of growing up and becoming independent is learning basic life skills. While students generally can figure all of this out by either trial and error or asking someone, it may make them better prepared, and give parents some added peace of mind to ensure students are informed and skilled on basic functions and skills that will help them be successful at college.
How about you, Clever Friends, did you do all of these things when you moved your college student into the dorms or did your parents do them with you when you moved in?
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