The boxes are packed, the plans have been made and nerves or not, here comes college! As you head into new territory with your soon-to-be college kid, it can feel like there’s a million lessons still to be taught. Instead of tackling all of them on the car ride to move-in day, here’s five worth starting now.

Basic Life Skills
They’re easy to overlook, but basic life skills that adults with fully-formed brains take for granted (how to wash clothes, clearing the lint trap in the dryer, not putting liquid dish soap in a dish washer) – may not be things your young adult has ever considered. Even the simplest tasks are worth talking about. A few suggestions? How to check your bank account, making a budget, shopping for groceries, ironing clothes and brewing coffee.

What to Do When You’re Sick
It’s pretty crummy the first time you’re sick and away from home without someone to take care of you. To prep for that inevitable “I don’t feel so good” phone call, make sure they know where the health center is located on campus and how to make an appointment. You can also put together a sick box to store in their dorm room. Fill it with the basics – over-the-counter remedies for headaches, colds, aches and pains, coughs and fevers. Add tea and honey, maybe even Emergen-C for when their dorm floor is swept by a mid-semester bug.

Extra-Curriculars
Being on your own for the first time and creating a new social life to boot is a challenge for everyone. That’s why it’s a good idea to set some expectations together for how many activities your student will get involved with each semester. Whether your child is the flutteriest of social butterflies or less inclined to make friends every time they turn around, setting an agreed upon number of extra-curricular activities is a great way to pace their social life with their studies. Talk with your student about what they think their schedule can handle – one intramural sport and two clubs? Pledging a fraternity or sorority? Two sports? One club plus honors college? Having a plan will help better the transition they’re making to new friends and life on their own.

How You’ll Communicate
It’s a great idea to agree on a communication style before you say your goodbyes on move-in day. Every family is different and there’s no one right answer. Whether you settle on texting every day or catching up on Sundays over the phone, setting some expectations between you for how often you’ll talk will help everyone avoid frustration, hurt feelings and parental worry.

Expectations for When Things Go Awry
Even the most angelic kids can run into things they didn’t expect while away at school. That’s why it’s important to talk about those moments long before they happen. Kids need to know (and be reminded) that there’s nothing they can do to make their parents love them any less. Setting some expectations of what they should do (seek your advice, call home, anything but hide the big uh-oh) will help them handle those unexpected moments when they arise.

The truth is, every college kid and every family is different, and with that in mind you have the freedom to start these important conversations now. As parents, we’re there to cheer them on as they step into a new world. We may not be close enough to swoop in and help, but we really are just a text away. Start those conversations now and you may find that they never stop.

Oh! And one more thing — those few things you inevitably forgot at home? Add them to a care package and mail it to your kid sometime in their first month away. (Just make sure there’s enough to share with the roommates.) While you’re at it, stop and get gift cards on the way out of town to the local spots and include them too — you know, to help stretch that budget!

 

 

Looking for some more first-day encouragement? Dive into the archives with past stories:
Saying Goodbye – Encouragement for elementary-school parents

1st Day of School – Advice for how to make it a great first week

What Every Teacher Wants You to Know –Words of encouragement and helpful advice from someone who knows best – a teacher!

5 Things to Teach Your Kid Before They Go to College – More advice for how to help your kids make the transition to college life

 

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Whatever your week was like, you’re welcome here at Christ Chapel. Gather with us on Sundays for community, worship and truth for your everyday life.

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West Campus: 9:30 and 11 a.m.
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