Help Your Child Transition into College


College can be a great time in one’s life. However, it can be stressful for both the parent and the student. Study habits, handling money, the “Freshman 15,” and staying balanced can be challenging. Below are some ideas to help parents transition their student successfully into college life.

Budgeting Skills

It can be hard to budget properly when you are on your own for the first time. That’s why it is very important to teach college-bound students how to incorporate budgeting into their weekly routine.

If your child receives some sort of allowance or has a job, start this lesson by talking to them about spending and saving. Work through the necessary spending items (rent, groceries, gas, insurance, etc.), then the discretionary spending (pizzas, recreational hobbies, etc.) and then discuss how much to allocate to savings each week. Consider getting them a student credit card that is associated with your bank account so they can start to establish a good credit record and you can monitor it to ensure that charges are aligned with the budget and the balance is paid timely.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is vital! Good grades come from energy level and motivation which are both promoted by eating well. Make sure to talk to your son or daughter about a balanced diet. This will also help them from putting on that “Freshman 15” – the average amount of weight often gained by some during the freshman year of college.

Some dorms have a small kitchen for student use. You can give your student some simple recipes to take with them to college. Make sure these recipes do not require a lot of cooking equipment or ingredients (especially not oil because dorms often do not allow cooking with oil).

Habits for Good Grades

Study habits are not always innate. That’s why it is a good idea to prepare your freshman by providing them with tools to help them earn good grades. Here are some ways that can help:

  • Get a planner/agenda so they can write down daily assignments
  • Invest in a white board calendar so they can jot down exam dates and other important academic deadlines, so they can see how much time there is between now and that important date and plan accordingly.
  • Encourage them to bring healthy snacks to class to promote energy throughout the day
  • Talk through a study habit plan with them and help them identify a time in the day when they can be most productive, and a place that is most conducive for them to focus.

Set Priorities Straight

College students can become so busy with juggling schedules and the excitement of a new social structure (and freedom) that they neglect self-care. Talk to your student about striking balances in areas such as staying physically active, healthy eating and having ample time to recover and relax.

Healthy tips may include taking vitamin C daily to avoid getting sick, or putting a time on the calendar each week for laundry and cleaning. Also make sure to talk with your student about the things to do to stay safe on and off campus, and review with your student the various health and safety resources that are offered by the college.

Developing these habits now will help your young adult transition to the full independence that will come after graduation, and will make for life-long habits for a happy and content lifestyle!