The summer before your daughter or son begins their first year of college is bittersweet. Whether they are going to a local school, or across the country, you know that big changes are on the horizon. My husband and I were both excited for our children and a bit overwhelmed by the idea that they would no longer be with us on a daily basis; good-bye after school activities and mall trips.
Managing the precious summer months with a mature teen ready to face new challenges can be a trial. One of my children who worked a full-time summer job decided that almost every evening should be dedicated to being with the friends that were also going away. Another one of them stayed very close to home, knowing full well that July and August would pass quickly. While it may be hard to balance the busy schedules of your soon-to-be college freshman, I do have a little advice for the months ahead.
Do not wait until August to purchase dorm supplies unless you want to stand in line with a lot of other teens and their parents wondering why so much is out of stock. The generic lists often supplied by stores for college dorms are not as useful as those supplied by your specific college. Check with housing to find out a little more about the room before you get to the college and double check the online floor plan once rooms are assigned. It is possible that some of the items that you think would be perfect just won’t fit.
Plan a family vacation (minus friends) if only for a weekend. Now that you know where your teen is headed, there may be some additional conversations that can be opened up about the type of lifestyle they will encounter. There is a big difference in going to a city school and a suburban campus. What is the area like? How is the mass transit system? What are some additional safety and security procedures you can help your teen understand?
Most of all enjoy your summer together and don’t be too melancholy. You will be still needed on those winter and spring breaks, on moving days, and there will be those calls (sometimes really late) just because you will always be the most trusted one around. There’s next summer, when you will delight in the accomplishments of your son or daughter and enjoy the company of a budding adult. Also, give yourself a pat on the back; after all, they are on their way with your help and support.
Marina Kennedy is a reporter for The Alternative Press and teaches for Westfield Co-op and MORE of Westfield. She has two children presently attending college and two who have graduated from college and are in the workplace. She and her husband Chuck gained some practical knowledge after watching their four children apply to college. She will be sharing some tips in her column, "College Logic" to address some of the situations that face parents and their college bound teens. Her column will appear monthly in The Alternative Press.
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