Summer is well under way, and as hard as it may be to fathom, it's time to start getting ready to send kids off to college. If you're the parent to a first time college student, you may need some help. With that in mind, here are tips for parents of first-time college students to help them get ready:
Keep your Cool
Preparing to leave for college is an overwhelming process for everybody. Tensions will run high, and there is a good chance that someone will get a bit nervous in a parking lot somewhere between your house and the Target on your way to buy sheets for your child's dorm room. Stay calm by getting prepared; write yourself little reminders to stay cool and relaxed, and leave your child notes of encouragement that can be opened at any time and help keep them from getting too nervous. Remember to maintain your perspective. It's going to be hard for everybody, but you're also going to have a wonderful time.
Do your research
A new start calls for new tools, and your college student may need to update his or her technology before heading off to school. Some schools offer purchasing plans for laptops for entering freshman, as do a lot of big technology stores. Before you commit to this option, do your research, and be sure that the laptop offered is one that will actually be useful. Take note: Typically, the price through a program is higher than a standard laptop, but that is because it comes with with a warranty and repair plan. If you and your child feel that it's the best choice for what it will be used for, then move forward.
Every parent wants to send their child off to college fully prepared, but it's best to hold off on buying dorm-room decor until you actually see where your child will be living; for all you know, that adorable rug you bought then loaded into your car and hauled across five states is way too big for the tiny space your child will be living in. Before you leave, stock up on the basics, such as bedding, towels and a desk lamp, but get as much as you can once you are there. If you can't stay to help set up or aren't able to deliver your child to school in person, send him or her off with a gift card so they can get supplies on their own, or order things online that can be shipped or picked up in a store once you're there.
Prep for goodbye with a care package
It will be a great surprise for your child to receive a package just days after he or she have left for his or her first year of college. Prep the package before you leave with all your child's favorite snacks and a special note, and stick it in the mail once you are done saying goodbye. Include items from favorite local spots as well as things that can be shared, such as funky pens and pencils, homemade cookies, group games and DVDs. Be sure to throw in personalized stationary or note cards like these, and a list of addresses that your child can use to write home and to his or her friends.
Preparing for college can be an exciting time, for you and for your child. Don't forget to have fun while getting ready, and send your child off with good wishes and the knowledge that he or she can always come home if needs a place to avoid his or her roommates for a day.