My third child is heading off to college in three days. He will be driving across country, moving into his dorm and thankfully attending student success week prior to his freshman year starting.
I have learned so much in the past three years of having kids in college. My advice is just that, advice, it's the things I've seen and wish I had known when my oldest daughter started school.
1.) Tell them to make friends, join clubs, and get a job, anything that will integrate them into the community. Get out there meeting people, without connections; they won’t survive the college experience.
2.) Send packages. Do it! I don’t care if they are ½ an hour away or across the country. Send your child something from home that they don’t know they miss. Nutella, a gift card to Subway, a shirt that made you smile. Photos for them to hang up; let them know the family is thinking of them.
3.) If they have a student success week prior to school starting, sign them up. It is HUGE for their future success, if they know where the best lunches are, or know how to find the closest hide out in a rain storm; they’ll be able to tell people on their dorm room floor or friends in class. It makes them a hot commodity in a world of new faces.
4.) LEAVE THEIR DORM ROOM DOOR OPEN. Seriously, when they leave their door open, they are showing the world that they want to be part of them. When they are there doing school work, watching videos, etc, leave it open, interact with people walking by.
5.) Have them get on the Facebook page of their college. Every new year someone in the incoming freshman class will start a Facebook page for that year and it’ll help people look for roommates with like minded people, find out who is living in their dorm hall. Meet people online and set up a time to meet in the real world.
6.) Get extra food and drink when they are in the lunch area. Snacks that can be taken back and put in their fridge for those cold winter nights or lazy summer heat where they don’t feel like moving a whole ton will be a lifesaver for them or one of their new friends.
7.) The school has tons of jobs to offer, the money isn’t the greatest but who are they to complain? 8$ an hour for 10 hours a week will give them some play money. They need play money, when their friends want to go to Subway, or $1 Slurpee day at 7-11 they will want to indulge.
8.) Take the classes they get at Orientation. Even if they hate them and the hours don’t work for them, (They will choose last because they are a freshman, don’t fret), the first 2 weeks of school people drop classes like crazy. Spend the first few weeks scouring the class lists, they will find the one they want and/or the time they want during those first two weeks.
9.) Parents, go to Orientation. Learn the campus; learn the layout, where the lunch areas are and where the dorms are. Call the school if you have ANY questions; help your child out when they seem to be floundering. Let them make their own choices in other areas, this is all about independence, but they can’t be independent if you don’t teach them how. Read up on all the activities, plays, events, etc. Show them you are involved in their college career without being there all the time.
10.) They will get inundated with credit cards in college. Throw them away. All of them, don’t tempt it; tell them not to risk it unless they have a job. Even then, don’t risk it without talking to a parental figure or a money savvy friend. They get kids in college because they are easy prey, teach them that it’s a scam and not worth messing their credit up while just starting out.