4 Things To Do Before Heading off to College

Getting into college is exciting and exhilirating in so many ways. Yet there’s usually very little time to prepare – before your student leaves home for school.

That’s why we’ve put together a brief run-down of the important things to square away with your student – before they leave the nest for their first year at college.

– Scott

4 Things To Do Before College

1. Establish some academic expectations

It’s estimated that 25% of students won’t make it out of their freshman year. And that 50% of all students never graduate college.

Why is this? Yes, some students just get caught up in the party scene and never make it to class. Some take their newfound freedom as an excuse to sleep all day and ignore their grades. And some are just ill prepared for how hard college academics can be. It’s crucial that your student go into their freshman year knowing that high school is over, and that means harder classes, tougher teachers and more work.

Working with your child to establish some expectations (like a B average in all classes for instance) through proper time management and responsibility can help them avoid some common pitfalls. Also make sure your student knows and is willing to use all the resources at their disposal.

That includes things like academic resource centers, study groups and student tutors. College is difficult, no doubt – but if your child knows going in that they’re going to be held to an academic standard or there will be consequences, this can light a fire under them that’ll last until May.

2. Come to an agreement about money

Money is obviously a prevailing theme when it comes to college. Now that your student is enrolled and starting classes, your concerns might move away from how to pay for college to how your child is going to get by while there. Ideally, they’ll have saved money on their own, from a job taken over the summer or throughout high school. But they still might need more.

If you’re going to give them money throughout the year, make sure it’s an established amount on a specified timeframe. Let them know that once that money runs out, they’re on their own until the next installment. A low limit credit card is also an option, but if you go this route, make sure you put your name on the card as well so that you can monitor the balance and cut it off if need be.

Obviously your student will need spending money throughout the year. Working out an arrangement before they leave can help ensure you’re not receiving weekly calls begging for a handout.

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3. Get in touch with the roommate

Sure, the first college roommate doesn’t always work out. But the chances of your student and their roomie establishing a friendship, or at the very least a tolerable living arrangement will soar if they get in touch with each other before school starts.

Whether it’s by phone, email, text, or Facebook… a few brief chats over the summer can get them comfortable with each other and enable them to go into freshman year already knowing someone. And from a logistical point of view, it only makes sense to discuss who’s going to be bringing what assets to the room. Space is limited and you don’t want to waste money or energy hauling stuff to school that you might not have to.

4. Familiarize your student with their new surroundings

If your child is attending school in a brand new town, it’s a great idea to take a day or weekend trip over there with them before school starts in order to check out the local area. Your student will feel much more comfortable knowing where the nearest Target, coffee shop, pharmacy, burger joint etc… are before they arrive on campus.

Moving to a new town is always scary no matter what age you are. Throw in it being your first time away from home and family and it can be downright terrifying. Anything you can do to make your student more at ease with their new surroundings will help them feel less stress and anxiety during a time when they’ll have plenty to worry about.

To your family’s college success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network, LLC

College Made Simple – The Free Educational Resource of the College Planning Network, LLC

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Editor's Note: Scott Weingold has been ranked the #1 “College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About” in the entire country by CollegeStats.org.  He has co-authored the book, “The Real Secret To Paying For College. The Insider’s Guide To Sending Your Child To College – Without Spending Your Life’s Savings.” Scott also publishes a popular free online newsletter, “College Funding Made Simple" which reveals insider’s tips, methods, and strategies for beating the high cost of college.

Scott is the co-founder and a principal of the widely renown College Planning Network, LLC – the nation’s largest and most reputable college admissions and financial aid planning firm. CPN is a proud member of the Better Business Bureau, the National Association of College Funding Advisors, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Scott, along with his college funding advisory team, helps thousands of families throughout the country with their college planning needs and offers a series of free educational webinars and workshops on “How To Pay For College Without Going Broke In The Process!” He's been featured or mentioned in The Philadelphia Inquirer, Yahoo News, TheStreet.com, Voice America with Ron Adams, Crains Cleveland Business, and on Cleveland Connection with James McIntyre.  Scott has published numerous articles and is a professional speaker who has addressed thousands of audiences online and offline throughout the United States.  His actionable insights and candid, open approach have earned him & his team numerous media interviews, citations, and speaking opportunities, and his free online video workshop is one of the Internet’s most widely viewed pieces in the college funding space.