Is your child leaving for college in the fall? There are a few things you should do before they leave for school. After all, they will be gone for a few months; and in addition to missing them, they will miss things too! Plus, there are a few important things you will need to teach them before they leave the nest. So, without further ado. . .here are a few things to do before your child leaves for college.
Play tourist in your area: Chances are, you and your family have avoided the touristy areas of your city like the plague. Find a day and play tourist before your child leaves for college. When they go away, other students will ask if they have been to these tourist attractions, and your student should be able to say yes. Plus, it is really fun to play tourist for a day. If you live in LA, check out Hollywood, if you live the Bay Area, visit Alcatraz and walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, if you live in St. Louis, see the Arch! You get the picture. Play tourist!
Clean their room: I don’t just mean dust and sweep, I mean go through everything in the room and donate what your child does not need anymore. Box up mementoes and store them; and update what is hanging on the wall. As soon as your child leaves for school, their room becomes a museum. When they visit on holidays, there will be no redecorating or cleaning. They will treat it like a hotel room, and someday when they are thirty years old, the room will look exactly the same. Clean it out now before it comes a storage closet. At least it will look like a room when they leave and won’t become a burden. That being said, don’t convert it to a pool room. Their room should remain their room while they are in college. It should reflect their personality and have their stuff in it; just in a clean and organized fashion.
Let your child make the menu: The week before they leave for the fall semester, let them pick what you cook for dinner. Once your child goes off to college, there is a good chance they won’t be home until Thanksgiving and they will miss your food. Let them get their favorite meals in before they leave. One month into school they will tell you how they miss certain meals you cook. Let them enjoy their favorites before they leave.
Give you important passwords: If your student loses their phone, laptop or other form of electronics, you want to be able to lock out a thief. Get your child’s passwords to key accounts so you can do some security from home; especially if they lose access to all of their electronics. You can also help them if they are a victim of a security breach. . .which takes me to. . .
Teach them about cybersecurity: Teach your student about staying safe online. Make sure your student has unique passwords for every account and those passwords need to be strong and long. Teach them to not share passwords and to never use public networks; especially at the airport. Set up your child’s electronics with security software and a VPN. Also, make sure your student knows to never click links in texts and emails. College students are victims of elaborate phishing scams, so make sure your student is aware of them and knows what to look for. Tell them to ask for your help if they are unsure if a text or email is legit.
Teach them street smarts: If you haven’t already taught your child some street smarts, do it now. Show them how to keep their belongings safe both on their person and in public spaces. Make sure they know not to walk alone after hours and never, ever leave their backpack and/or laptop unattended; even if it seems safe in a library or dorm lounge. Laptops disappear quickly at colleges! If your child has an expensive jacket, those disappear too. Never leave nice things, and important things, unattended.
Teach them to guard their drinks: If your child plans to party like a rock star in college, teach them to protect their drink. Too many students are reporting laced drinks nowadays. Make sure they know to abandon any drink set down or which has left their eyesight. Never accept drinks from strangers at a party, and if they are drinking out of a famous red cup, make sure they see the beer from the tap going into the cup. Don’t drink an open cup someone handed to them, even if it’s from a friend. Make sure they saw the beer go from the keg into the cup or it isn’t safe.
Learn how to do laundry: You won’t believe how many kids go to college and have no clue how to do their own laundry. Make sure they know how to separate darks from lights and to wash reds separately. Make sure they know to read the label and not throw something in the dryer which should be hung up instead. Rule of thumb, if it’s dry clean only, leave it at home.
Go on a family vacation: Once your child starts college, there is no guarantee your family’s schedules will sync up again. Go on that family vacation you have all been talking about the summer before they leave for college, or it might never happen.
Teach them how to budget and balance a checkbook: You won’t believe how many kids go off to school and have no clue how to watch their accounts and budget their funds. Make sure your student understands due dates, such as when to pay their student credit card-and how! Make sure they know how to balance their accounts and not end up overdrawn. Also, teach them the value of the dollar, just in case they haven’t worked yet. Or else, they will spend all their money on burritos the first week of school and their meal plan will go unused. Also, teach them to pay off their credit card balance every month. The worst thing they can do is run up a balance and max out their credit card while in school. Teach them to live debt free, and only spend what is within their budget, and already in their bank account.
Spend time with them: Your student will be gone for two or three months before they come home for Thanksgiving, spend as much time together as you can. Watch movies together, even drag them to the supermarket. Get as much time with your student as you can because they will gone for a few months. Cherish these last few days together.
Lastly, hug your student and reassure them you will always be there for them, and home will always be there for them. As excited as they are to go off to school, they are nervous and scared too. Be their rock.
Congrats on your new adventure!