Beyond the academic challenge, moving away to college requires students to acquire the everyday life skills needed to function in a happy and healthy manner. While it may be tempting to coddle your children as much as possible before they leave home, you will be doing them a big favor if you help them get accustomed to caring for themselves before they have to. There are a number of steps that can be taken to make their college transition a smoother one:
Let them manage their own time. A calendar is the most effective time management tool ever invented—and the fact that you can carry one around in your pocket on your phone means there’s no excuse not to use one. Get your child accustomed to scheduling his own activities and deadlines and taking responsibility for being at the right place at the right time.
Don’t wake ‘em up. It’s the rare high school senior who gets up and ready for school every day without any assistance from a parent. Before they move away is the time for students to figure out what they will need—a series of phone alarms, an extreme alarm clock, etc.-- in order to rouse themselves out of bed and make it to class on time.
Help them develop a chore routine. One of the big changes freshmen deal with is learning to coordinate their lives to include eating regularly, cleaning up after themselves, and wearing clean clothing. Teach your child the basics of shopping, cooking, cleaning, and washing clothes, then help her develop a chore schedule to ensure that she never ends up without clean underwear.
Teach them how to budget. If you haven't already done so, work with your child to figure out how to live within the allowance you provide to him and/or the money he earns. Clarify how much money he will have to spend at school and what items that will need to cover so that he doesn't end up blowing the monthly budget on a couple of trips to Starbucks.
Make sure they know how to access mental and physical health resources once on campus. Campus health centers typically offer basic medical services and psychological support. (Let your student knows that depression and anxiety are common among freshmen, in particular, and make sure she knows how to access help.) Since your child might need services not available on campus or at times when the health center is closed, help her locate the closest urgent care center and emergency room that is covered by their insurance plan.