Off to College: 6 Tips to Help them Prepare and Help You Let Go

The time has come; they’re off to college. Take this time to help them so you know they’ll be ready.

You’re no longer going to be buying markers and gluesticks and tissue boxes (although you may need a few tissues as you’re packing up the car and saying goodbye) but there’s still plenty of preparation for back to college you can help your teen with.

1. Send them with plenty of the essentials
Buy the 3-pack of toothpaste and the bulk package of toilet paper and plenty of Tide Pods. None of it will go bad, you know they’ll use it and once they realize how expensive real life is, it will be their most prized possession.

2. Buy it new
Unless there’s some inseparable nostalgia – and even then – have them leave their cartoon sheets at home. Buy them new sheets, new towels, new pillows. A new laundry bag, first-aid kit and backpack are probably a good idea too. They’re going to get plenty of wear and tear at college, so better start with something that is more likely to last.

3. Teach them the basics
I’m sure they’ll just need a refresher, but laundry 101, some ironing tips, a reminder not to use dish soap in a dishwasher would be useful for someone going out on their own for the first time. Some general financial advice (setting a budget and sticking to it, only using credit cards for actual emergencies) and meal tips (pasta is a sometimes food) and time management skills would also be good reminders.

4. Be Organized and Pack Light
Packing too much stuff might be a hassle when moving it. Your child will collect more items as the years go by. Purchase sturdy boxes with handles and write your child’s name on them for transporting their stuff.

5. Let Them Do It
We’re not saying kick them out of the van while it’s still moving, yelling, “See you at Thanksgiving!” but at least talk to them before about how involved they want you to be when it comes getting settled in their new dorm or apartment. Let them check in, handle issues and make decisions on their own. Be there for help and support, but allow them to take the reigns on their newfound independence!

6. Be secretly sentimental
Sneak an envelope in one of their boxes or have an email ready to send when you pull away from campus. Let them know you’re still there for emotional support and how proud you are of them. It’s an exciting time for everyone and you’ll need each other to get through it.

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