As a parent, you want your student to succeed in college, but how can you help? Part of the college experience is learning to be independent and self-reliant, but you can still help your student as they grow toward total independence. Here are some of the areas your student may need help in, and what you can do to assist them.
Financial stresses can prove to be quite the distraction for a college student, and attending college today can be quite costly. Besides paying tuition, room and board, and books, college students often face a multitude of smaller expenses that add up quick. Helping your student financially can help them to focus on their studies rather than stressing about finances and where their next meal will come from!
Financial Aid Facts
Be advised and educated on what type of financial aid is available for your student. Not only is it important to know what type of aid is available, but you should also educate yourself and your student on the repayment that will be required. Also, be sure to file the FAFSA as early as possible to ensure you are able to get the maximum funding. Financial aid offices distribute much of their aid on a first-come, first-served basis, so keeping one step ahead of the game is crucial. The longer you wait to get started, the more you’re going to pay in the end.
Banks and Credit Unions
Your student’s campus will usually have a bank or credit union located on it. Banks and credit unions on campus are quite convenient as they can provide information regarding student loans, personal loans, and checking and saving accounts, as well as convenient cash withdrawals and money transfers.
Health Care Services
Make sure your student knows where the nearest health center is located when they arrive on campus—it’s important to know this before they get sick or need help. Knowing the location is just the first step: Encourage them to learn about the service fees the heath center charges, as well as the services offered.
Can your student take their car to campus? Some colleges do not have the space to allow every student to have a car, or they may restrict parking access to certain levels of students (juniors and seniors, for example). Be sure to check with the school’s parking office for vehicle restrictions and guidelines.
Cell Phone Coverage
Check beforehand to make sure that your student’s wireless phone will work on their campus. If their phone won’t work (or if they don’t have a phone), look for student discounts provided through the school or local companies. Special student rate plans can definitely help your student’s budget.
Know that conflicts are likely when your student moves away from home to share a small living space with one or more new people. Conflict is natural, so your student and their roommate should be prepared with ways of resolving problems. Encourage your student to talk through their problems with their roommate to find a resolution. Resident assistants and other staff members can also assist with conflicts as needed. If conflicts cannot be resolved, you student can seek a room change, though that request will depend on available space.
All colleges and universities comply fully with federal and state laws governing alcohol—students under the age of 21 may not legally possess or consume alcohol. Every school has their own disciplinary action for students who violate the alcohol policy. Some include meeting with staff members to discuss the situation at hand, while others include participating in classes. As a parent, it is important that you speak with your student about your expectations regarding alcohol use since they will be in a new environment with new freedoms and responsibilities.
The Dorm Room
Check with the school to find what items are included in your student’s dorm room. All dorm rooms will have at least a bed and a desk for each student, plus a closet and sometimes a dresser/chest of drawers. Students are responsible for cleaning and decorating their rooms. If your student is able to talk with their roommate before the school year starts, they can coordinate what items each of them will bring to furnish the room.
Check your student’s campus event calendar to see when family weekend occurs. Parents and siblings can visit campus during these special events to learn about the school, and special events such as sports, fine arts, movies, and games are often planned.