It may seem like yesterday when you were getting your son or daughter off to preschool. And now you’re preparing him or her for college!
The process of a child leaving home is a major milestone and is complex because of the emotions it generates. The reality, though, is that there are some very concrete things that need to be done to make this a smooth 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 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? 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.
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.
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 her and discuss classes of interest. Help her select the courses that are best for her.
Pack It Up
Work with your child to make a list of things to pack. It will help you if you check off each item as you buy and pack it. Labeling each item may help prevent loss. Keep in mind, though, 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.”
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.
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.
If your child does not have one yet, you may want to open an account that includes a debit card. Clarify how much money will be available. If you give your child a credit card, clarify when it is appropriate to use it. Define what constitutes an emergency. Destinations Credit Union can help with all of these items.
You may be feeling a little traumatized by the prospect of your child leaving home, but don’t underestimate your child’s concern-even if he doesn’t express it. Talk about 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 this before the big day.
Discuss your expectations. Even though you won’t be there physically, your child needs to hear what you expect. Talk about ways to combat stress at school and who to contact if he needs help.
Your turn: Do you have a child leaving for college soon? When did you start preparing? What would you advise parents? What would you advise students?