Adventures Of A College Parent – 4
In June, my son and I took a trip to his college of choice to get the lay of the land and do all the things that need to be done prior to his first year of university. I’m sure each college does things a little differently, but the basic format is most likely similar enough that I can give you a glimpse into that mysterious world.
The first step is to register for the event. The University of Idaho calls it UI Bound, Yale calls it an information session. If my son was 8 instead of 18, I would call it “back to school day.” In either case, the details and registration are on the Admissions page of the school’s website.
Once you’ve registered for a time to attend and tour the campus, pay attention to your emails. You will receive all the specifics about where to sign in, what time to be there, and a general schedule for the day. The school will also send you particulars regarding parking, which is important so you do not end up with a ticket or having your car towed. Wear comfortable shoes because there will be a lot of walking, and plan on being there all day.
The general schedule is as follows:
- Orientation of the day
- Get separated into groups by major
- Take a tour of the campus specifically geared toward your child’s major
- Parents and students are separated; parents go to an info session and students go to register for classes.
- Rejoin your student for lunch, then continue touring the campus on your own or visit financial aid, the registrar, bookstore, or any other administrative offices.
What happens during the parent info session? I’m so glad you asked! This is an important hour or so where you hear from campus security, the health department, resident advisors, and more. In turn, they give an overview of their job and how they can help your student while they are going to school. They also answer concerns that new college parents might have and hopefully put your mind at ease regarding your child living on campus.
For some of us, having our child leave home causes some anxiety over their health and safety, especially in this period of time where campus shootings are almost commonplace. It was a huge relief to hear the safety measures in place for students at the University of Idaho and to know the police work closely with campus security. It was also interesting to hear some of the resident advisors’ recommendations to parents.
Things your child should know before arriving on campus:
Parents of upcoming college students, there are a few things that the school wants your son or daughter to know before you turn them loose on campus.
- How to do laundry. Don’t laugh! My son told me the other day that one of his friends goes home every weekend just so his mom can do his laundry.
- How to manage their time wisely. Hopefully, this is something that they have learned through high school but the resident advisor reported that a lot of new college students struggle with keeping up with coursework because they do not know how to keep a schedule outside of the classroom.
- How to make and keep a budget. Even if you’re paying for your child’s tuition or they have a full ride, they need to know how to check their bank account and keep track of their finances. Here’s a parenting hint: don’t bail them out if they overspent before their next payday. Allow them to figure out how to get by the rest of the week will teach them better than any discussion.
- How to ask for help. Young adults who are just starting to figure out their lives seem to have an avoidance in asking for help when they get stuck, or they ask too much. The trick is to learn when to ask and when to work it out on your own. It’s good to remind your student that if they ever have a question regarding student life or their academics, they can reach out to their academic advisor, resident hall advisor, or the Dean of Students.
The most important advice I can give a new college parent is to start teaching these things to your child now if you haven’t already. Do not wait until the summer before college because that’s the time for these young adults to work, spend time with their friends, and decide what they’re packing for their dorm room. That last summer will go by faster than any of the others before it!