Upcoming college freshmen will be entering school in nine short months. Now is the time for parents to begin preparing their students about possible pitfalls that may await them. Here are a few things that might deserve a conversation.
Let your student know that homesickness is not unlikely. Advise them to keep in touch with current friends and family, at least, in the beginning. It will pass as time does but will dissipate more quickly if they get involved in school activities early to make new friends. Also a good roommate can help. If they haven’t chosen one and they will be rooming with a stranger, encourage them to communicate early with their new bunkmate and set rules that both can abide.
They may feel overwhelmed in the beginning. Tell them this is normal and that it will pass as they acclimate. As above, keeping in touch and making the effort to find new friends will help. It is worth the effort to make real relationships rather than counting on social media to find others who feel the same pressures and uncertainties they do.
They are free at last, and this freedom can create problems. Emphasize the importance of organization in their lives. It is best if they create a schedule that includes a regular time to study each day. Studying with classmates can be helpful as they can encourage one another.
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Living with many people can allow a tendency to pull all-nighters. Discourage this from both the social and the study perspective. School is for career preparation and tired minds don’t function as well. Sleep is vital and not receiving enough can impact grades and attendance.
Besides enough rest, encourage your student to eat regularly and healthy. Proper diet fuels the body and promotes the extra energy they will need for a busy college experience. Remind them, however, that it is not unusual to add weight during your first year in college. Too much junk food and alcohol combined with a lack of exercise can cause the clothes to shrink.
As far as alcohol goes, some consider it part of the college experience, but underage drinking can cause legal problems that may hinder their career later. Also, never leave your drink unattended or out of your sight. This gives others the opportunity to spike your drink for ulterior motives. Don’t take drinks from strangers, and don’t drink alone. This is so important for the ladies. Freshmen women are highly susceptible to date rape.
An uncomfortable topic for many parents is the sex conversation. Yes, you’ve probably already had the talk and your daughter is a proper lady, but have it again. Some studies have shown that about 17 percent of dropouts are because of pregnancy. College is too expensive and too valuable to cut it short by something that could have been avoided. This is an individual family matter so regardless of your view on sex, have the conversation. Frame it in moral terms, financial terms, career terms – it doesn’t matter. Just have the conversation.
Don’t forget to talk to them about protecting their valuables, credit cards and identity. Remind them of the warning signs of fraud. Ask them to discuss credit and banking opportunities with you before acting on them. Speak with them about what they post on social media and let them know that once it’s on the internet, it will never go away. This can impact their careers in the future.
The freedom of being away from home is a valuable one for our young. But this freedom should be used wisely and protected.
Less than 63 percent of those who begin college will graduate. Most will take an average of six years to do so. Let’s do our part to ensure that we give our students the best chance of success.