This is the second of three posts about decisions new college students may face during the summer before freshman year. As a college parent, you can help your student consider some of these important issues.(Read the post about academic decisions here.) This post looks at some student life decisions students may face. The final post will discuss student financial decisions.
Your student’s been accepted to college and made the choice of which college to attend. You’ve paid the deposit and your student is now happily, if somewhat nervously, connecting with new friends on Facebook as she prepares to head off to college at the end of the summer. You may be feeling relief that the decisions are over and you can all settle in for the ride.
It may not be that easy. The summer before freshman year of college is still a time of many decisions for both you and your soon-to-be college student. Some of the decisions will be easy, some may have been discussed previously, and some may take you by surprise. Being prepared for making some of these decisions will help both you and your student anticipate some issues that might arise.
It is natural for both you and your student to feel somewhat overwhelmed by the number of things that you need to think about and prepare during this busy summer. You don’t need to tackle everything all at once. But starting now, and making some decisions early, will help both you and your student feel more in control of this transition process. We’ve listed below some of the topics you may need to think about and some of the decisions you and your college student should begin to consider. We hope that you and your student will think about some of these issues — and follow the links for further reading.
Student life decisions
- Your student will need to consider whether he wants to live on or off campus. Some schools require freshmen, or even require all students, to live on campus. Some schools have few off campus options. If your student is interested in living off campus, he will have many things to consider. He will need to make these decisions as early in the summer as possible to be sure to secure adequate housing. (Read more about living on/off campus.)
- Whether your student has chosen to live on campus or off campus, she will probably have a roommate. Summer is the time to be in touch and to make some decisions about what to bring and when/how to meet. (Read more about preparing to live with a roommate.)
- Perhaps your student has chosen to live at home and commute to school. You may think that means that there are no further decisions to be made. Living at home during college makes sense for many students, but there are some summer decisions for both you and your student that will help this arrangement go more smoothly. (Read more about college students living at home.)
- If your student will live on campus, he will need to select a meal plan. Some schools have many options for meal plans, and the obvious first choice may not be the best choice for your student. Investigate all of the options and find out whether your student can change plans if the one he chooses doesn’t work. (Read more about selecting a meal plan.)
- Your student may or may not have the option to bring a car to college. Some schools do not allow freshmen to have a car, and some families cannot afford to consider the option. But if a car is a possibility for your student, she should think carefully about the realities of having a car at school and whether it makes sense for her. (Read more about having a car at college.)
- Depending on how far away your student is headed for college, you may need to talk about how often your student will come home to visit. Although you may want to stay in close touch with your student, it may not be the best idea for him to plan to come home every weekend. You and your student should make some decisions about expectations for coming home now. Have some conversations about the advantages and disadvantages of frequent visits home. (Read more about heading home for weekend visits.)
- It is not too early to begin to talk to your student about expectations when she comes home again — either for a weekend or for breaks. She will have had some independence and may not feel that she can easily slip back into her former habits. Talk now about issues such as family/household responsibilities, curfews, relationship to siblings, etc. You may not necessarily make final decisions, but both you and your student should begin to consider and talk about your thoughts. (Read more about students returning home.)
- Do you expect to talk to your student on the phone every day? Once a day? Multiple times a day? Once a week? Does she expect to be able to text you often? Do either of you use e-mail? Will you have access to her Facebook page? Decisions about how often you expect to communicate and how you plan to do it are another area that you and your student should discuss before she leaves. Make a plan. It can always be modified later. (Read more about communicating with your student.)