College Transition: Expert advice for parents

Sending your kids to college
Published: Aug. 19, 2023 at 7:16 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As the start of the college journey approaches for many families, a mixture of emotions fills the air. Sending a child off to college can be a pivotal moment for both parents and students alike, marked by a blend of excitement, trepidation, and nostalgia.

For parents, it might be the first time their child has embarked on an extended period away from home, and ensuring they are well-prepared becomes a significant concern.

While the essentials like tuition payments, meal plans, and dorm room arrangements are likely in order, there are additional steps that parents can consider before bidding farewell. WBRC spoke with Jay Johnson, founder of Prep Intell, a tech company aiding colleges in finding suitable students and increasing enrollments, who offered valuable insights into this process.

“Learn the campus more than anything else,” Johnson advised, emphasizing the importance of familiarizing oneself with the campus layout. Identifying the locations of classes, the student union, library, and even emergency facilities is crucial. Having a safety plan in place can bring peace of mind, knowing where the nearest emergency room and police station are situated.

Furthermore, Johnson suggested, “Connect with the dorm mates’ parents or someone on campus that way if something happens, you know who to contact.” Creating connections with other parents and campus contacts can serve as a valuable resource in times of need.

In addition to physical preparation, discussions about financial responsibility should also be on the agenda. Johnson underscored the significance of teaching students about wise financial practices to prevent credit card debt and excessive student loan burdens.

Perhaps one of the most crucial pieces of advice, according to Johnson, is instilling trust in both the child and the upbringing provided. “Don’t overcrowd them. Don’t give them too many rules. Be their friend and a listening ear,” he recommended. Respecting their autonomy and allowing them the space to make decisions, while being available as a supportive friend and mentor, can foster a smoother transition.

So, as you prepare to embark on this new chapter alongside your college-bound child, remember that amidst the excitement and the emotions, a blend of planning, trust, and open communication can pave the way for a successful and enriching college experience.

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