The acceptance letters are in and your teen is enrolled to start college in the fall! As a
parent, you may feel as though the college preparation process is finally over. Wrong! As your teen gets ready to embark on their college journey this fall, it’s time to start preparing them for what lies ahead - especially if your child is going to college away from home. Having important discussions during the summer before college begins can be instrumental for getting your teen on the right track. As you equip your child with the knowledge and tools for a successful college experience, here are three often overlooked areas of discussion to keep in mind:
Money management. For many teens, the college years are the first time in which they’re expected to manage their own money. Regardless of how mature your teen may seem, it’s critical to establish guidelines regarding finances and teach your child how to budget wisely. For example, if you plan to give your teen a certain amount of money each month, make sure it’s understood how the money will be spent (i.e., textbooks, occasional entertainment, car gas). Additionally, if your teen has a part-time job, establish a budget so they know how to allocate their income appropriately. Failing to set expectations can quickly result in poor spending choices, and worse, a missed opportunity to teach your teen about effective money management.
Personal safety. Talking about safety may not be a top priority on your teen’s list, but it’s certainly one of the most important things to discuss before your child heads off to college. Discussing the importance of personal safety with your child is critical for their health and well-being, as teens are often naive to the many dangers and uncertainties they may encounter away from home. For example, you may start by helping your teen become familiar with their new campus environment and making sure they know how to contact their college’s campus safety department. Equipping your teen to advocate for their own safety will give them the skills and street smarts to navigate their new environment with confidence.
Health and wellness. Perhaps one of the most critical aspects of college preparation involves educating your teen about health and wellness. Many of us laugh about the “freshman fifteen,” yet most parents do very little to educate their children about nutrition and healthy choices. While it’s OK to let your child know they can indulge sometimes, helping them understand the consequences of poor eating habits can save them from a lot of health concerns down the road. Encouraging regular meal breaks, well-balanced dining hall choices and regular exercise are all part of instilling healthy habits.
These are just some of the many factors involved in the transition from high school to college. By being proactive with discussing these matters, you can play an important role in your teen’s college preparation, giving them the tools, knowledge and guidance to succeed in college – and life!