Whitefield Academy Blog
10 Things You Should Be Able to Do Before College
Your baby is going to college! Has the panic set in? You want them to not only survive but to thrive. After pooling the thoughts of a number of parents and current college students, here’s what they think your teen should be able to do before leaving the nest.
1. Money Management: Decide your family’s stance on credit cards. Are you going start one early so that your teen can establish good credit, or is it too tempting? Be sure that your teen understands the online banking attached to their debit card and can keep it balanced. Help your teen establish a monthly budget; we love the Goodbudget app. Finally, have a talk about taxes. Are you filing them? Are they filing them? What are they, exactly?
2. Time Management: No curfew. Little accountability. Sound scary? Prepare your student for the sheer amount of time that they will have available to them. Set expectations before they get to college for the number of credits you expect them to take, the grades you expect them to get, the job you expect them to have, and any other “time-spending” expectations you have.
3. Living with a Roommate: Imagine you walk in your dorm room for the first time freshman year, and your future roommates have bunked the beds three beds high, kindly offering you the top bunk. It’s ok. Really, I’m over it. Unless your child has shared a room with a sibling, having a roommate can be a rude awakening. Try to give your child some realistic expectations for living with a roomie: you might not be best friends, you might have different time management styles, you might have different sleeping habits, and that’s ok! Remind your child that the only person they can control is themselves, so if they want a clean room, clean it! If they want to sleep when their roommate is awake, buy an eye mask and headphones! And if their roommate is doing something that makes them uncomfortable, tell your student to be open and to talk to them about it. Nipping any problems in the bud will help to ensure a (relatively) peaceful living situation.
4. Appropriate Posting on Social Media: Prepare yourself for eye-rolling, but you can’t reiterate enough that whatever your student posts on social media is out in internet land forever. Remind your student that potential future bosses can see everything that they post, everywhere.
5. Laundry: Separating lights from darks, what can’t be dried, what needs to be dry cleaned, how to iron, where to get quarters (surprisingly they still use quarters in the machines), how to get out a stain, and the most important: wash your towels and sheets more than once a year. Or one Whitefield alum mentioned that he just paid girls to do his laundry, so that’s a creative option too.
6. How to go to the Doctor and Fill a Prescription: Your student wakes up with a fever. What do they do? Figure out ahead of time where you would like your student to go whether it’s the on campus nurse (who probably isn’t there 24/7), a local urgent care, or a local doctor. Might be a good time to explain health insurance and establish an account at a pharmacy that takes your insurance.
7. Spiritual Life: We spend hours helping our kids establish good routines with their piano lessons, their homework, and their sports practices; we should make sure we are also helping them establish the routine of being in the Word. Also, what are your expectations for church? Do you hope your child stays in your denomination? Have them do research beforehand to find a good church and figure out transportation from campus. Discourage “church hopping”, and encourage getting fully involved in a bible study or college ministry.
8. Survival Without A Phone: If your child’s phone died or was lost, would they be lost as well? Make sure they memorize important phone numbers and their social security number. Do they know directions, and I mean the basic ones like North, South, East, and West? These little things could come in very handy in an emergency.
9. Healthy Habits: No matter how good the food is at your student’s university, there are still a million bad decisions to be made. Cookies on the way to the table before getting your food? Why not! French fries at EVERY meal? Of course! Cereal at midnight? Hooray! Now I’m not trying to rain on everyone’s college parade, but encourage your student to set some limits for themselves ahead of time. Even small things like getting a fruit and vegetable with lunch and dinner or only eating dessert at one meal can be helpful. And if tuition doesn’t include a membership to the gym on campus, you might want to consider adding that to your bill.
10a. How to Ask for Help: It is really, really important that your student knows that it’s okay to ask for help. Whether the troubles are academic, emotional, physical, or relational, make sure that your student has access to people and phone numbers who can give them advice or assistance.
10b. How to Ask for Help: Does your student know how to engage with adults? Being shy doesn’t cut it anymore once you are in college. College students must know how to look people in the eye, avoid mumbling, and be polite. It’s also important to know the difference between emailing a friend and emailing a professor.