They say that college holds some of the best years of your life. Once your child is set on going to college, it’s important to prepare them for all the things they will be exposed to while they’re there. Serious discussions with your new college student may not be the most fun, but they’re crucial to have. Topics like finances, mental health, drinking, sexual safety, responsibilities, and how to manage your time are part of the must-have conversation before college.
Initiating the Conversation
No matter the closeness of your relationship with your college student, starting difficult conversations can be awkward. Both parties can feel uncomfortable. It’s better to be uncomfortable than not have the conversation at all. You can start the conversation by talking about how much fun college is for a lot of students. Ease into the smaller challenges of transitioning from high school to college courses. You’ll then be ready to talk about the things that are important to discuss.
5 Must-Have Conversations with Your Future College Student
Your student could have scholarships, grants, loans, or an allowance while in college. No matter their financial status, it’s important to talk about how money is different when you’re an adult. The college years go by fast so they’ll want to set themselves up for financial success once they graduate. Their college years are the perfect opportunity to learn how to budget. You can create a budget with them based on their monthly bills and teach them how to use the remaining money. If you send your college student to school without teaching them the importance of finances while in school, they may run through their money much quicker than anticipated.
Use the College Raptor Scholarship Search Tool to find get extra money for school!
Here are some of our top tips for budgeting throughout college to help your student make the most out of their money.
2. Mental Health
Studies show many college students have difficulties with their mental health. The stress of courses, being away from home, and the overall big change can negatively affect your college student. While it’s common to get stressed in college, you should want them to seek help when they need it. Eliminating the stigma around mental health will allow them to be more open. Many colleges offer counseling for students so you could encourage them to make a monthly appointment for a mental health check-in.
It’s no secret that alcohol will be involved in a college student’s life one way or another. Some students may try it and not like it while others may become regular drinkers. It’s important to discuss the health concerns of binge drinking and teach them about knowing limits. When drinking, it’s often too late when you realize you’ve had too much. Binge drinking can cause liver issues, weight gain, mental fog, and more. Show your student the facts about binge drinking and speak with your college student about safely consuming alcohol.
4. Sexual Safety
Learning consent and sexual safety before college can prepare students for what they may encounter while in school. Teach your college student about how important it is to get consent before any sexual intercourse and that they have the right to say no. They shouldn’t take part in sexual intercourse when they or the other person is under the influence. Your college kid should be able to confidently stand up for others when they see something non-consensual to prevent something from happening.
5. Time Management/Responsibilities
Your kid’s college years will be some of the best years of their life. Creating a schedule and learning how to manage their time early into their college career will set them up for success. They’ll be able to find a balance between school and having fun with their peers. When they don’t know how to manage their time, they’ll get stressed and constantly be on edge about the next assignment. Buy them a planner that is detailed so they can make their own schedule. This skill will also be used once they get a job and have more responsibilities.
When making a commitment to responsibilities like clubs, volunteer work, or a part-time job outside of school, your student should know how to do it with integrity. Showing up on time, doing their best, and helping others in all ways will build character and teach them how to put in the effort. Over their lifetime, they’ll be able to come back to the basics of learning responsibility to get back on track.
Just Do It
The most crucial conversations with your future college student will not be the easiest. Preparing them for the next few years of their life, especially if they’re living away from home, will immensely help them transition. As a parent or guardian, showing your support and love during these difficult conversations will create a safe space. They will be able to express their concerns and turn to you for advice instead of other college students. You’ll never regret having a conversation over these topics but you may regret not having one before they leave. Ask questions and see if they have any questions or concerns about living on a college campus or about their university courses. Answer truthfully and ease any worries they may have before starting their freshman year.