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Parents: What Your College Bound Students Should Know

July 01, 2009 By: Category: Campus Life

As high school seniors count the days until their long-awaited college independence arrives, parents are left wondering: Have I taught them everything they need to know?  No matter how hard parents try, college freshman always realize there were a few things they should have learned before they left home. We can’t teach our children everything, and in fact, it’s best not to.  Nevertheless, the following is a list of things all college students should know:


Photo by Auzigog

  1. Laundry: Believe it or not, many students leave home without the faintest idea of how to turn a washing machine on. Teach your children how to separate whites from darks and how to use detergent and fabric softener. Since being green is popular with the college kids, you should also warn your children of the toxic dangers of laundry detergent so they aren’t ridiculed by their fellow students.
  2. The Importance of Credit Scores: I had a friend in college who paid his bar bills with credit cards and lived with seven delinquent guys who never paid the bills registered in my friend’s name.  He left school with a terrible credit score that haunted him for ten years. Make sure your kids know about the importance of credit scores and make sure they cancel their electric and cable bills when they move.  College kids are notorious for living on free cable, courtesy of the previous tenet.  
  3. Balancing a Checkbook the Cyber Way: The idea of carrying a book of paper checks and managing finances with a handwritten log is going to be completely foreign to your digital college student. Make sure to sign them up for online banking and try to make their balance as accessible as possible. Many banks offer online bill pay and some banks even allow students to send a text message to view their balance.  
  4. The Danger of STDs: Most students know how to prevent AIDs and pregnancy, but not all students understand how to protect themselves against other sexually transmitted diseases such as herpes and the Human papillomavirus. Make sure your children know about ALL of the STDs, not just the deadly ones.
  5. How to Make Fast, Cheap and Healthy Meals: College students rarely put any effort into their meals, so it’s important to teach students how to make simple meals that require very little effort or cash. Try tasking your teenager with preparing a healthy meal one night a week. This will give you an opportunity to understand what skills they are lacking. Find some quick recipes with five ingredients or less and have them give it a try. 
  6. The Importance of Exercise: When students go to college they no longer have the structure of high school sports, gym class or neighborhood activities to motivate them to exercise. This can be a hard transition for students and can lead to obesity or eating disorders. Make sure your children understand the importance of exercise and are aware of the resources available through their college recreational department. Note:  Don’t push too hard.  You don’t want to give them a complex. 
  7. How to Eat Right and Love Your Body: Most teenagers can eat anything they want without gaining a pound, but in college, their metabolism tends to catch up with them. This can be a hard reality. You can help prevent this by teaching your children healthy eating habits and passing on some tips. However, it is really best to lead by example. Again, pushing the issue may emotionally scar your child. Let them know that everyone gains a little weight in college and you will love them no matter what.
  8. Assertion: It can be hard to make the transition from a high school in which everyone knows your name to college where you are just a number. Let your children know that if they want to meet their classmates or professors, they need to introduce themselves. They probably won’t listen to you, but at least it’s worth a try. 
  9. How to Prevent Food-Borne Illness: I came down with salmonella in my sophomore year because I lived in a house with nine people and we only cleaned the kitchen three times the entire year. Again, your kids will probably ignore you, but try to pass on some tips anyway.
  10. What You Can and Can’t Put In the Microwave or Oven: I almost started my college house on fire because I put a Styrofoam container in the oven. There is a lot of controversy about what is safe to put in the microwave and oven, but you should at least make sure that your students know how to avoid a fire. Oh, and make sure to tell them to remove the lint from the dryer.  My roommate almost started a fire from that as well.These tips may help, but remember:  YOUR CHILDREN WILL MAKE MISTAKES. If they don’t, they will never learn how to live on their own. Set a good example and relax. College is supposed to be fun.