Get Your College Freshman Ready to Leave the Roost

Steps to Take Now that Will Make it Easier on Everyone

So, your “little baby” is getting ready to fly the coop in a month or so. Is everyone ready for the big transition? If not, there are a few things you can do now to make it a little easier on everyone. Of course you want to think about supplies - put together a list and then go shopping when you see items on sale. Make sure your student has a good computer that will get him or her through four years of use.

Consider what clothing needs to go now and what can be moved when your student comes home for breaks. Then take the following steps to keep making progress towards that college goal:

  • Pay Your Tuition on Time: This may seem obvious but some students and parents seem to get caught by surprise when it comes time to pay the tuition. Check on your school’s website or look for emails from the college that will tell you when tuition is due. Then be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to research and apply for any federal or private student loans before you need to make payment.
  • Don’t Overload on Student Loans: Only borrow the amount that is needed to cover the tuition and college expenses. Student loans should not be used for living expenses - these should be paid for from earnings or savings whenever possible. Use federal student loans first, and then look for private student loan options. Never borrow more than you need for expenses, as interest may start accruing, depending on the type of loan.
  • Attend Orientation: It is a helpful idea for your student to attend orientation, if possible. This is a good chance for students to get familiar with the campus, meet classmates, learn about the registration process, and experience a little independence.
  • Look for Book Options: If your child is able to register for classes, try to determine what textbooks will be required. Research online and digital textbook options to find the best deals.
  • Discuss Money Expectations: Now is the time to discuss money expectations, not after your student graduates. Students should be aware of how much spending money they have available, what their credit limits are, and who is going to be responsible for paying off those student loans upon graduation. It can be dangerous when parents and students each assume the other will be paying for the student loans.
  • Set a Budget: This is the best time for your student to learn how to budget money. Spend some time calculating how much money is available through savings, earnings, and money from the parents. Then look carefully at the monthly expenses, and help your child set a realistic spending budget for each month.
  • Set Some Limits: Although technology makes it easier for parents to communicate with students who are away at college, it is not always the best idea to be in constant contact with each other. Set some communication limits, so your child can learn to make decisions.

Most importantly, don’t forget to create fun memories. This may be the last real summer you have together as a family. The older child may be interested in jobs, internships, or study abroad opportunities, while younger children may start the college process themselves.

Set a special day or week where you just spend some time together without the pressure of paying for college, and really get to know this new person who is now a college freshman.