Preparing for Your College Student’s First Year Away

Sending your child (particularly your first born!) off to college can be a stressful time. Emotions can run high as your child begins to contemplate life without your constant presence. You are likely feeling a mix of emotions as well – caught between celebrating your child’s progress toward adulthood and independence and longing for the days when he or she needed you most. Below are a few things to consider that can help ease the transition. 

Expect conflict

Even the most well-adapted and optimistic teenager is likely to feel trepidation as they prepare to go away to college. Combine that with the normal stress and sense of loss you may be experiencing, and conflict is bound to ensue. Understanding this is key to deescalating discord between you and your child. Look to provide guidance when needed, but resist the urge to “helicopter parent.” Your child is simply testing his or her independence before the official departure date. Providing space for your child to process his or her emotions will go a long way in keeping the peace.

Leave some responsibility to your child

As a parent, it’s tempting to handle all the logistics involved in sending your child off to college. Ensuring all the financial paperwork, housing accommodations, meal plans, and the like are in order is certainly essential to getting your child off on the right foot. These are things that you should oversee. But don’t try to tackle everything. It’s important that some responsibility is given to your child to simply “figure it out.” Things such as communicating with potential advisors and coaches, picking up their books, locating the various classrooms and administration buildings, and ultimately deciding what personal items to bring are all things that teenagers can handle. It is key to helping them gain confidence as they transition to life on their own.

Work through the financial details

Even if you have a sound financial plan in place for you and your family, it’s important that you work out certain financial details with your child before they depart for college. Having a clear understanding of who is paying for what, and how, is critical. Sending your child off with his or her own bank account and debit card can be a great way for him or her to manage spending within a fixed budget. Should your child choose to get a part-time job, he or she can set up direct deposit and receive monthly statements themselves. Keeping your children involved in the process helps them realize the value of money, makes it more tangible, and can help them become fiscally responsible adults.

Southwestern Investment Group has extensive experience helping parents prepare to send a child off to college. More than financial advisors, we believe we place great value on the personal side of our client relationships, seeking to provide our clients with financial reassurance of mind. We invite you to learn more by contacting one of our advisors today.

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