How to Prepare Your Kid for College
I still remember the day my parents helped me move into Richardson Hall at USD. It didn't take long because what I was moving in amounted to a small black & white TV (yes kids, some TVs- -the cheap ones- - didn't have color back in the stone age), a hot pot, a red bean bag chair and one suitcase of clothing and toiletries.
I was ill-prepared for a lot of what was coming my way. I had older parents who hadn't been near a college or university campus since the 1940s. My sister Carmie was living at home while she matriculated, so dorm life and campus life were foreign entities to her. So I was a complete newbie at this college thing.
I met my roommate Char that day. She was an ROTC major. I was a theater major. We had absolutely nothing in common; not in the lives we had lived or the way we had been raised, the kind of friends we had or the activities we enjoyed. Nothing. And yet, we did become friends. She pulled me out of a very deep depression that first, extremely difficult semester by irritating the crap out of me!
She would tell me I slept way too much, (which was true and a telling symptom of depression) and wake me up to go out for a walk or activity. She made me laugh when I didn't want to and sometimes she would arbitrarily sit on me until I'd agree to go somewhere and do something besides mope around in our room.
I missed her when she left after that first semester, we never communicated again, but she left a lasting positive impression on me. I hope your college freshman has that kind of favorable experience with their first roommate.
Speaking of your freshman, PureWow has come up with a list of questions your kid should know how to answer before they hit campus and it's up to you to help them.
- Are you scared?- -Despite evidence to the contrary, ("I can't wait to get the heck out of this house and be on my own!") there is an element of fear involved in taking this next life step. Let your child know that college is designed as a meeting place, a place where you can make mistakes without doing a lot of harm and yes they are smart enough to be there!
- Do you know how to use a washing machine?- -Since you've been doing their laundry for 17 or 18 years, they might not. Time for you to teach Laundry 101.
- Do you know what to do if you get sick?- -Statistics indicate that many college freshman become sick 3 times in their first 30 days at school! So make sure they know about any on-campus health facilities, (forgive me for saying that when I was in Vermillion we referred to it as "Student Death") and nearby doctors. Also put together a medicine cabinet or health kit with the basics- -vitamins, first aid supplies, pain relievers, etc.
- Do you know what happens if you go into debt?- -I wish to God someone had taught me something about finances when I was getting ready for college. Do your kid a favor and let them know that bad monetary decisions they make when beginning their life on their own, can dog them for a long time! Teach them how to manage their accounts online and don't leave out information on crushing credit card debt and how important that idiotic FICO score will be to their future!
For the complete list of questions and more information click here.