June 15, 2022

6 Important Off to College Items for Parents and Students

Now that the sun is shining, graduation ceremonies are winding down, and schools are closing for the summer, it can only mean one thing. The Off to College countdown begins! It’s hard to believe that in just six to eight weeks, your student will be stuffing moving boxes into their car and “driving off” into adulthood. 

While this is an exciting and momentous time for both parents and children, it can also be pretty stressful. What happens when your student gets sick or injured at school? Should you pack enough clothes for all four seasons? Is it better to schedule early morning or afternoon classes? In this article, we cover 6 important items to keep in mind BEFORE leaving for college!

For Parents:

Preparing for college can be difficult and tricky, and we get that, which is why we prepare our students ahead of time, even as early as freshman year of high school. But early preparation doesn’t end when they graduate! No matter how old our children get, they will always be our babies. While many parents assist their children with the transition to adulthood in the first few years of college, please keep in mind once your child turns 18, they legally become an adult. This means you are locked out of their private information such as healthcare and education. While this can be a daunting thought, it is the necessary push your student may need to step into maturity and adulthood. Of course, no one wants to think about worst-case scenarios, but we suggest having plans in place to ensure minimum stress in cases of emergency.

Below are three important items to create a plan for!

Health Care Proxy

In the case of your child being unable to make medical decisions for themselves, consider having a health care proxy. This is a document that allows you to name someone you trust as your proxy to express medical requests and make health care decisions on your child’s behalf. Hopefully you will never have to use this, but it is good to have it in case! Families should speak with their healthcare professional to discuss pros/cons further and sign the appropriate forms.

Power of Attorney (Limited or Full) 

In the event that something were to happen to your child, it is a smart idea to have forms already prepared to handle legal and financial matters. This allows you to help with managing bills and make large decisions for your child if they are unable to do so. Of course, no one size fits all, so you and your family need to discuss what everyone is comfortable with ahead of time. Consider what areas are important. Families should speak with a legal professional to weigh their options and choose what works for them.

College Specific FERPA Waiver

Under the terms of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), parents are not privy to school related information such as tuition and grades.  Your child will need to speak with their college’s Registrar’s office to complete applicable forms. 

For Students:

This is an extremely exciting time for you! However, you may feel (understandably) more nervous than thrilled right now, and that is okay. In fact, it is perfectly normal. There are a lot of variables and situations that may seem overwhelming or stress-inducing, especially when you first arrive at college. Just know that everyone is feeling this, and you’ll soon find your groove. Here are 3 important things to keep in mind when preparing to go off to college!

Don’t Overpack for College

This is especially true for students who are going to school close to home! You’ll be able to easily bring things back and forth based on the season. In that case, don’t bother bringing a heavy coat in August that takes up an equivalent space of five pairs of jeans and a hoodie, for example. Pack smart! 

However, if you’re going out of state, you do need to plan for the semester. We can all agree that ten party dresses are not more important than one winter coat. Keep in mind that when you’re in college, you will be focused on comfort and ease rather than style (for the most part!) so grab those leggings, hoodies, and tennies! And don’t forget the calculator!

Time Management Is Your New BFF

High school was an extremely structured schedule. You woke up, ate breakfast, sat in classes for 8 hours, went to music lessons or sports practice afterwards, did your homework, and then went to bed. College is extremely different, and way less structured. You may even have a full day with no classes to attend. While this thought may be exhilarating, utilizing “free time” is essential. It’s the perfect time to catch up on sleep, plan your week, study, and finish homework ahead of time. If waking up in the morning is painful for you, best not to schedule 8 am classes! (Trust on this one.) If you’re an early bird, don’t pull all nighters to study. It’s not worth it! Figure out a system that works for you, and stick to it. 

Habits actually free up your time. For example, if weekday afternoons from 3-5 pm is your designated study time, you won’t ever miss a day because it becomes a routine. Turn off your phone, and get to work for just those few hours. Then, you have the rest of the night to enjoy dinners with friends or working out or seeing a movie, guilt free. The best part of it is that you don’t waste time figuring out when to study or finish homework, because you already have a plan in place!

Build Domestic Skills Before Going Off to College

This is going to be a rollercoaster four years for you! You are essentially leaving behind adolescence and heading into the real world. You won’t have teachers constantly reminding you of due dates, parents cooking dinner, or paying your bills on time for you! These responsibilities fall on your shoulders now. Perhaps right now this is a daunting thought, but just think of the freedom that comes with it! You’re beginning to grow up, so start building these adult skills now. Set up automatic payments for bills. Practice cooking simple meals. Learn how to grocery shop and meal prep for the week. Perfecting these domestic skills ahead of time will give you so much time back in your day. Then you get to do the fun college things, like getting midnight nachos with your roommates or having a movie night with your best friend stress-free!

Off to College

College is a four year adventure of fun, life-changing, stressful, and exhilarating times in a student’s life. For most 18 year olds, it is the first taste of adulthood, and with this comes many responsibilities. For parents, it can be a difficult adjustment to watch your child go off to college. In both cases, it’s key to prepare ahead of time so that the next four years are full of memories, accomplishments, and joy for you and your student!

Interested in learning how to prepare your current high school student for a smooth college application process? Check out our packages tailored to each student based on their academic year!

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