You and your child have done all the hard work and — finally — you are sending your son or daughter off to college in the fall! To make the transition easier, here are some tips and practical life skills they will surely need to know:
1. If you have not already started, teach them to do their own laundry. Don’t assume they know how to separate clothes, use the right amount of soap, what shouldn’t be put in the dryer, etc. Let them practice all summer and they will be ready once they leave.
2. Teach them how to do basic banking tasks, including using an ATM card and making payments and deposits online. Discuss how you are going to handle money with them. Don’t wait until they are walking out the door; this is something to talk about at the beginning of summer so everyone is clear on expectations.
3. Teach them how to cook several of their favorite meals. This can be a fun activity to do together, as they will certainly want to exercise their new-found freedom and may not spend too much time with you over the summer. Many freshmen will have a meal plan, but it is good for them to be able to create a taste of home from their dorm’s communal kitchen or their apartment.
4. Have them add the Uber and/or Lyft app on their phones and show them how to use it. This is particularly important so your son or daughter never feels “stuck” somewhere, thus ensuring a safe ride.
5. If they are going to a town where public transportation is used and are coming from a town where it is not, look over the bus and train routes with them before they go, and plan out some routes to places they are likely to go. If your child grew up without public transportation, even the most obvious things need to be pointed out, such as whether they are traveling northbound or southbound and how to obtain and pay for your transportation tickets/cards, etc.
6. Have a serious talk about safety. Your son or daughter will be in new surroundings at first and you won’t want them to become more vulnerable than necessary:
a. Always lock your doors and windows, especially when sleeping.
b. Stay aware of your surroundings — don’t let technology distract you.
c. Don’t walk alone at night. Find a buddy or call the campus shuttle (or even Uber).
d. Review the emergency plan for your campus and know where the emergency call buttons are. Make it a point to find them upon your first few days there.
e. Leave the party when your friends leave!
f. Keep some extra cash and find a good place to hide it in your room.
7. Finally, try to enjoy the moments of their “last summer” with you. Remember that they will not always make the perfect decisions on their own, so keep the big picture in mind. What would life be if we weren’t human now and then? Now is their time to fall flat on their faces with no one looking so they can get up, learn from it, and move forward!