Child leaving for college? Do These 3 Things Before They Go!

Last Updated on March 13, 2020 by Diane Hoffmaster

Do you have a child leaving for college?  My oldest will be a Sophomore this year and we learned a lot about the process last year.  I have been leaving college advice for parents on my personal Facebook page and thought maybe I should share it with my blog community as well.  Hopefully, these tips about what to do before your teen leaves for college will help make your life a tad bit easier this year!

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Do These Things Now Before Your Child Leaves for College

 Child Leaving for College?  Do These Things NOW:

A child leaving for college is a big deal.  Last year was incredibly hard for me.  I started crying about the time senior year spring break rolled around and didn’t stop for about 9 months.  Let yourself be emotional, but tackle all the shopping, list making, packing, etc to keep your mind busy. Here is some college advice for you AND your kids that may make life easier for both of you.  

College First Aid Kit

Make a College First Aid Kit

Make up a very extensive college first aid kit for your kid to take. Yes, there is a health center on campus, however, it is not always easy to get to, available when they need it or fast. Taking time to walk to the health center when all you need is some Pepto is a waste of time that they don’t have. And at my son’s school, he can either spend a fortune in the bookstore for a tiny, overpriced bottle of Advil or he can Uber to Walmart. Not great options.

Like this post about a child leaving for college?  Here are more college tips for parents:

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Also, talk to your teen about careful taking of medicine. Teach them how to read dosing info and make sure they know not to take two things with the same type of ingredient together (like, No, don’t take Nyquil AND an antihistamine because they both contain the same thing…. etc).

So, what do you put in the box? EVERYTHING. But, here are a few suggestions:

  • Pepto/Imodium
  • Advil
  • Tylenol (yes, both, for high fevers…)
  • Cough drops
  • Sore throat spray
  • Allergy meds (saline, decongestant, Zyrtec, etc)
  • Band-aids and first aid stuff
  • Rehydration tablets…. (and yes, those are good for being sick from germs and being sick from too much alcohol….)
  • Cough suppressants
  • Anything else you think they will need….

Don’t forget about refilling their RXs before they leave. Send tissues and hand sanitizing wipes. Send loads of vitamins that they probably won’t take.

Your kids will be getting sick… or, at least mine spent about 4 months with cold/sinus issues last fall.

They are moving into a nasty dorm with hundreds of other nasty teenagers who have questionable hygiene habits. Your teens will be stressed. They will not eat right or sleep well. Make sure they are prepared as best they can be. And program that health center phone number into their phones…..

Grant Application indicating college finances

Get Your College Finances in Order NOW

Get your college finances in order right now before your child even leaves for college. Print out a copy of your statement from the school (the detailed one that breaks it down by meal plan, fees, tuition, etc). Print out a copy of the bookstore receipt for your child’s books. Did you cash out bonds, an educational account, etc to pay tuition? Print that out, too.

Create a physical folder with all your stuff. FAFSA info, HOPE info, loan info, printouts, whatever. You will be SOOOO happy you did this when tax time rolls around, I promise.

Also, remember that fall semester will go on this years taxes but spring will go on next years’. So, keep the folder organized by calendar year, not ‘grade in school’ year.

young woman using cell phone

Program Important Numbers Into Their Phone

If you have a  child leaving for college, make sure they have important phone numbers programmed in their phone. Behavioral health (because mental health in college students is incredibly fragile). Tutoring services (because they will probably need them). Any anything else vital that they may need…. because websites are huge and not always easy to navigate, especially when they are stressed out.

Your teen is an official adult. That means you have ZERO right to know anything about them. Even if they are in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Make sure you call the school and get the right forms so they can authorize release of medical information in case of an emergency. Otherwise, they won’t tell you squat.

Child Leaving for College_ Advice for parents to make the experience easier

There Is No Right Way For You To Feel

Whether this is your first child leaving for college, or your third, it is a hard transition to make.  Don’t listen to anyone else about how you ‘should’ feel about your kid fleeing the nest.  Crying is OK.  Not crying is also OK.  You are allowed to feel sad, excited, scared, or any other way you want and need to feel.  I did not handle it well last year and learned quite a bit about grief when a child leaves for college.  I can say that laying on their bed and staring at their old posters and stuffed animals is not the best way to deal.  Been there, done that.  Suffered through a lot of post crying headaches as a result.

I am not ready for this boy to go back but I guess time marches on whether I want it to or not. Next on the agenda today is school supply shopping, book buying, and maybe some ice cream. For my own mental health.  If you want more advice for parents of college students, check out Grown and Flown.  I have found a TON of great info over there. 

Have any other tips to share about sending a child off to college?

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