Preparing for the first semester at College

Preparing for college can feel like a daunting task. Our team at Collegiate Coaching Services shares eight tips you can use to help prepare your child and you for the first year of college.

  1. Think about your expectations. How often do you want to hear from your child? How do you expect them to handle finances? What academic expectations do you have for the first semester, such as GPA and class attendance? What social and life management expectations do you and your child have? Discuss substance use and technology use (e.g. bringing a video game console) and come to an agreement about what will occur and not occur. After you have had some time to reflect on these, ask your child to do the same thing. Compare your expectations and then have an honest conversation about what you anticipate the next year to look like. Develop an agreement together based on the expectations you both have to ensure communication has been clear.
  2. Take advantage of all orientation opportunities. Each higher education institution approaches orientation in their own way. However, whatever options they provide, you should plan to take advantage of them. If your college has in-person orientation sessions, go. If your college offers welcome days, go. If your college provides an online experience, complete all of it. An important note: your child should be the one doing the driving in any of these experiences.
  3. Explore resources and ways to get involved together. While your child should be the one engaging, it is appropriate and helpful to encourage them to explore what the campus has to offer. Sometimes campus resources and opportunities can feel overwhelming, but exploring them together and framing the discussion around your child’s interests or questions can help them feel empowered to take advantage of what is available.
  4. Help your child set a routine. As the semester approaches, encourage your child to set a routine that aligns with their anticipated class schedule. The more their body can adjust to a wake-up time, the easier it will be once they arrive on campus. This will also help them implement the routine once they arrive in the less-structured campus environment. Once again, help your children determine what that routine would should look like and what would help them be successful rather than imposing your own expectations.
  5. Prepare for emotional changes. Each child (and parent) reacts to the transition to college differently. Some children may withdraw as they prepare to leave home, while others may become more emotionally demanding.
  6. Don’t ignore finances. Be sure to talk to your child about finances for the first year and if possible, work with them on budgeting over the summer. Even if you are not worried about finances, encouraging students to start to understand how to budget and manage their money now is a valuable and important lesson.
  7. Read. There are a wealth of articles, books, and websites available to help you and your child prepare for the transition to college. In addition to reading about the transition, it is a great habit to support your child in increasing their reading time this summer. Many students are overwhelmed by the reading requirements of a college curriculum, so stretching that muscle with books of interest is a good way to prepare.
  8. Consider taking a vacation. Getting out of the house and away from the daily routine can provide an excellent opportunity for your family to connect before your child leaves for college. Be sure that the trip is interesting and engaging for everyone and plan time for activities to do together as well as time for each family member to reflect on their own.