College is a tremendous milestone in a young adult’s life. Often, it marks the first time your son or daughter has lived away from home. Dropping off your child at college may be an experience loaded with emotions, so here are a few tips for a smoother transition.
Accept that the parent-child dynamic has changed
Your child is always your child and will need you as much as ever. However, parents need to understand that their role has transitioned from “supervisor” to “mentor.”
Make the move simple
Do not bring the moving van. Not only will it embarrass your child, but dorm rooms just aren’t that large. Bring only what’s appropriate.
Consider pre-ordering essentials (soap, bedding, shower caddy, etc.) for pickup at a location by the school. This will save space whether your trip is by car or plane.
Don’t put off “The Talk” until the drop off
While college represents a gateway to many wonderful experiences, parents will want to have a serious conversation about safety, responsible behavior, finances, and expectations about staying in touch.
Do not leave it for the drop off. It is sure to sour the moment and may rush a conversation that deserves more time and mutual dialogue.
Time to learn financial responsibility
When your kid gets to college, he or she will need spending money. To take advantage of this real-life opportunity for your student to learn budgeting, without giving him carte blanche with your account, consider providing a debit card attached to an account that has a set sum for the full semester or one that’s refreshed with monthly deposits.
Take the lead from your child
Let your child have the discretion to make decisions about what to bring. However important you think a dust skirt is for the bed, try to avoid fights. Let your child make a mistake. It’s the best way to learn.
Your child will likely send signals when it’s time for you to go. Listen! It’s time for him or her to begin connecting with new roommates. In fact, your final “good-bye dinner” may be canceled so your child can enjoy an impromptu introductory dinner with the new roommate.
Learn more about saving for higher education.
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