It probably seems like it was just yesterday when your son or daughter had their first day of kindergarten. Now, they’ve just graduated high school and you’re preparing them for the big move to college! While this major milestone in their life is complex and emotional for everyone, the decision to start preparing now will help your family adjust to the transition.
Schedule any necessary doctors’ appointments. A doctor may need to fill out college medical forms and can also write prescriptions for regular medications. This is also an opportune time to make sure immunizations are current.
If your child has been seeing a mental health professional, make an appointment there, too. You may want to ask for a letter describing your child’s issues in case you need it for support services. Also, decide if your child needs ongoing support from this professional or if you want to arrange for a new therapist at school.
Your child needs easy access to medical insurance information. Will he or she use your private insurance? What about college health services? Which doctors are available to them while they are at college? Make it easy for your child to get help if he or she gets sick.
High School Issues
Have your child check with the high school to make sure they’ve sent the latest high school transcript to the college. For your records, and for future college needs, request all high school records, including testing results, and keep them in a secure, but available, space.
Pave the Way for Success
If it’s appropriate for your child’s needs, make an appointment with the college’s disability services office. Learn about the services they offer and determine the documentation your child needs to apply for services. Most colleges require students to register or apply; the services are not automatically available. It is best to put this process in place before classes start so your child isn’t overwhelmed with trying to access these services while adapting to their new situation.
Ease the Transition
It’s a good idea to help your child to think ahead about the coming year. Spend some time looking at the course catalog with them and discuss classes of interest. Help them select the courses that are best for their interests and needs. Doing this will also set them up with a roadmap to selecting courses throughout their education. Don’t forget to use online resources to check course difficulty and professor teaching style!
Pack It Up
Work with your child to make a list of things to pack early on. It will help you if you check off each item as you buy and pack it. Labeling each item may help prevent loss, as Dr. Ruth Peters says, “Keep in mind that stuff gets stolen at school. I don’t care if it is an Ivy League school or a tiny institution – if the item isn’t tied down or locked up consider it at risk.” Planning ahead and making a plan for your child’s in-room storage will help keep your child’s belongings safe.
Make sure your child’s technology is up-to-date. Does he or she need a new computer? An upgrade? It will be easier for you to take care of this at home. Take the time to ensure they know the features and programs available to help with their schooling.
Be at One with the Portal
Pick a quiet time and sit with your child at the computer to look at the college’s online portal. You should both be familiar with it and with the information that is available. Make sure you have the login information for your child’s account.
Where in the World Is the Library?
Look at the campus map to help your child identify important locations: dorm, tutoring center, administration offices and the library. It will also be helpful to map out class locations and determine the best way to navigate through the campus during their day.
If your child does not have one yet, you may want to open a free Peaks Perks™ Checking account that includes a debit card and offers the opportunity to earn a high dividend or get cash back! Clarify how much money will be available to them and any of your expectations. If you give your child a credit card, clarify when it is appropriate to use it and how to make responsible decisions with the card. Define what constitutes an emergency.
It can also be helpful to teach them financial responsibility by showing them how to use online banking to track their spending. Our online banking is easy to use and can allow your child to access their account, card balance, budget, and spending records in our Peaks Money Manager! We even have Budgeter Accounts available that specifically help with money management. Learning these skills early on will help set your child up for financial success.
Make plans for how you will keep in touch. Are you comfortable with email only? Do you want a phone call or video call once a week? It helps to clarify your expectations before the big day; your child needs to hear what you expect. Talk about ways to combat stress at school and who to contact if he needs help. We know that you may be feeling a bit traumatized by the prospect of your child leaving home, but don’t underestimate their concern as well – even if they don’t express it.
Do you have a child leaving for college soon? When did you start preparing? What would you advise parents? What would you advise students?