Preparing to Leave For College

Preparing to Leave for College ... We Need to Talk

Before your son or daughter leaves for college, take time to talk to your child about some of the basics. Things that you take for granted may not be as obvious to your child. Since this may be the first time that they have had to "take care of things on their own," it may not hurt to provide a "refresher course" that covers some of the basics before heading to school.

Financial Limitations

Talk to your child about finances and be clear about what you can afford to contribute (i.e. for books, phone bills, etc.). Talking about finances now can save both you and your child problems later on.

One of the biggest expenses you may face will be that of the dreaded "long distance phone bill." You and your child should compare cost of long distance servers, cell phone contracts, pre-paid calling cards, etc. to see which meet your needs and provides rates that you can afford. 

If your son of daughter is interested in on-campus employment, there are two resources to check. At Millersville University, on-campus job postings can be found on a bulletin board outside of the Student Payroll Office, which is located on the first floor of Dilworth Hall. Students can also check with the Financial Aid Office about on-campus employment. The Financial Aid Office if located on the first floor of Lyle Hall.

Managing Money

For some students, this may be the first time that they managed their own finances. Talk to your child about the responsible use of credit cards, how to set up a budget, how to write checks and manage their check book, and the importance of making sure that bills are paid on time. Discuss what to do in the event of a "short fall" and how to handle money emergencies.

Day-to-Day Chores

Does your child know how to do the laundry, keep his or her room picked up or to get out of bed/go to bed without you being there to keep them on track? Talk to them about the importance of getting enough sleep so that they can get out of bed in time to make that 8:00 a.m. class without missing breakfast or making sure that they are well rested so that they don't fall asleep during Dr. Byerly's lecture or Dr. Roddy's chemistry test. Let them know that a roommate might not be as receptive to the clutter that currently covers their bedroom floor at home. Show them how to do the laundry so that the beautiful wool sweater that Aunt Sarah gave them for their birthday doesn't end up two sizes smaller than it was when they left for college, or that their underwear isn't supposed to be a lighter shade of the "now faded" red shirt that they have on.

Safety Issues

It's surprising that even the basics such as: keep your room door locked, don't drink and drive, don't go out at night by yourself, etc., can be forgotten. Talk to your child about "safe behavior." Encourage your child to take safety issues seriously. For more information, and tips contact the University Police Department.

Time Management

Wouldn't we all like to be able to manage our time better? Talk to your child about the importance of learning time management skills. Scheduling time to study, complete assigned projects, attend classes, work at a job, eat balanced meals, and socialize with friends can sometimes become overwhelming. Learning how to manage time wisely can avoid a lot of problems as the semester winds down. Remember, almost everyone can "burn the candle at both ends" for a short period of time, but in the long run, you only end up getting singed. The worry, stress and anxiety that can be caused by procrastinating, trying to do too much or not learning good time management skills can cause health problems.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Talking to your child about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle can help them keep things in perspective.

  • Diet and Exercise. Talk to your child about the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise so they don't become of victim of the "freshmen fifteen," those extra fifteen pounds that many freshman gain during their first semester at college. Dining halls on campus offer a wide variety of healthy foods for students to choose from. Instead of that slice of chocolate cake, take an apple or some yogurt. Send a supply of healthy snacks with your son or daughter to keep in their room for those late night study sessions (instead of calling out for late night pizza delivery). Most students have access to microwaves and/or refrigerators in their rooms so it is easy to keep a supply of juice, fresh fruit, yogurt, popcorn, etc.
  • Substance Abuse. Talk to your child about the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and illicit drugs. Talk about healthy alternatives. But most of all, talk about the serious consequences that can come from substance abuse. Share your personal values and opinions. Listen to their concerns.
  • Healthy Relationships. Yes, you probably had this talk with your son or daughter many years ago, but it may be helpful to touch on it again. Discuss ways of staying safe and of making wise decisions about sexual activity. Talk with your child about where to go for help if any type of abuse or assault occurs.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, making wise decisions and staying safe will make your child's college experience much more enjoyable and rewarding.

Will That Fit in the Car?

Remember the Boy Scout Motto, "Be prepared!" While your son or daughter may want to bring everything to campus that first semester, gently remind them that they will be sharing a room with someone else who is thinking the same way that they are. Take our word for it, you can't fit 3,000 pieces of luggage into a residence hall room. For more information about what to bring to campus, residence hall dimensions, plans to build a loft bed, etc. can be found on the Millersville University Housing and Conference Services Web Site. This site offers a lot of practical information and extras that will make your child's stay in the residence hall much more enjoyable.