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Advice for summer prep. for 1st yr. college students--anyone BTDT??


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A number of us have children (adults!? Yikes!) who are graduating this year and transitioning to college. I have a dd who is graduating this May.

 

This will be a big summer for us, getting ready for school.

 

Can anyone--especially those who have BTDT--give us "newbies" good advice as to summer preparations for that first year of college?

 

For example, these are some of my thoughts:

 

 

1. Get dd licensed to drive - big question about whether or not she should have a vehicle that first year of college.

 

2. Dd needs to get a job this summer and earn some money.

 

3. Dd will also need to contact the school to work out some part-time opportunities there. One option may be tutoring other students.

 

4. Choose the dorm room. Check out the dorm room for what is needed? Schools usually provide a list. Can anyone here list absolute essentials for your first-year student's dorm room?

 

5. Should the student meet the roommate ahead of time?

 

Any other advice? I've had other thoughts on this topic, but for some reason they've escaped me now.

 

I'd certainly welcome advice from you seasoned moms out there! :)

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Get the driver's license as soon as possible and get absolutely as much driving experience as possible beforehand. This is really, really important. I was housemates with someone who got her license right before she went to college. It is not a good idea at all. Even if she doesn't have a car, she needs to be able to be the designated driver. You don't want her at the mercy of other student drivers. If she is going to be going off campus, I would feel better if it were my own child doing the driving. (My sons always wind up as designated driver. I am glad they had enough driving experience to be able to drive a group of rather unquiet friends in a strange area at night.) Make sure they can read a map and send one with them.

 

Make sure they have a bank account and are comfortable using it and can keep track of their budget.

 

Passport? These take a long time to get, if you don't have one. Sometimes travel opportunities show up suddenly in college. Mine needed them for school. Make sure they are up to date.

 

Speedreading might not be a bad idea. Or algebra review if it has been awhile.

 

Make sure they are firm on their study skills, know how to read a course catalogue, how to read a syllabus, have some system for keeping track of all their papers and handouts, know how to figure their grade, understand how much worse not taking a test (0) is than flunking a test (do a little math to demonstrate), know how to see their advisor, know how to add/drop courses within the limits if they get in over their heads or have trouble with a prof. Make sure they know about office hours, the writing center, and tutoring. Tell them they can email you their papers as a quick way öf backing them up. Make sure they know to get a friend or the writing center to proof their papers before they turn them in. Make sure they know how to back up their laptop onto some sort of external drive and do so frequently. If the college has tech support, make sure they know about it.

 

Make sure they can do laundry.

 

Make sure they know how to treat a cold, flu, diarrhea, muscle aches, blisters, a head-ache, indigestion, and when a cut needs stitches. Make sure they know when to go to the infirmary.

 

Get their phone system figured out. Consider skype and/or facebook as a cheap means of family communication.

 

If they are going to be in the city, make sure they are comfortable with public transportation. (I would do this anyway, even if they are not.) The idea is that you want them to be able to get home or back to college on their own if they land in an uncomfortable situation and want to leave.

 

Make sure they know that parking garages are not good places to go alone and other basic safety precautions, like not leaving their laptop in a carrol when they go to the bathroom. Make sure they know about the escort service (most colleges have one, I think). Make sure they have a system for not loosing keys (if they haven't had to deal with keeping one before) like a clip or putting it around one's neck.

 

And I know this may be controvertial here, but whether I ever thought my child would need it or not, I would have one last conversation about STDs and birth control. The college may do this, also, so this is your chance to put in your two cents worth. It isn't a bad idea to mention date-rape, either, just to be sure your child is aware that it happens. I would also point out that when you drink, you give up control, often in a situation where others are also doing that and it would be most desirable to stay in full control of the situation. Make sure they know where you stand on these sorts of issues. Make sure they know that these aren't "baby" rules that they outgrow when they turn 18, but expectations that your family has of its adult members, as well.

 

This also isn't a bad time to talk about house rules for the adults in the family (including you). When they first come home at Thanksgiving, you want to be able to relax with them, not iron out things like whether or not they have to tell you where they are and what their plans are.

 

Make sure they know what to do if they have a problem with their roommate, how to approach the roommate in a friendly way if they have a problem, how to go to the RA if need be, etc..

 

Make them lots of cookies. Buy them icecream cones. Have fun with them. Enjoy them.

 

HTH

-Nan

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I was reading the Housing Policy for my DD's college last night. WRT roommates, their policy is that you can not request a transfer the first two weeks. After that, they want the kids to try and work their issues out with the RA before a transfer is granted.

 

ETA: Check the university website. They will have a TON of information available for parents.

 

They also said that they assign roommates in early June. They send you a letter with the name and email address of your roommate so that you can start communication prior to 'move-in day'.

 

Does your child's college offer an orientation for in-coming Freshman? If so, you should sign up for it. It was rather pricey for us - $130/student, $35/parent. The students spend the night in the dorm rooms, but the parents can only attend during the day. However, they say that all of our questions can be answered during the orientation.

 

As far as the job and car go, I guess it depends on where you live. DD's university has a shuttle service on campus, and knowing how 'cheap' our DD is, she will more than likely take advantage of that (rather than spend money on gas). LOL

 

Our DD had her licesnse when she turned 16, and she's held a job since she was 15. Her plan is to work two jobs over the summer so she can save as much money as possible (we never allowed her to work two jobs before).

 

I have been preparing her for years to be able to live on her own...so I guess this is when I'm supposed to give her her wings now. It's hard. I probably should have been preparing ME better. I'm excited for her...and sad that my 'baby' grew up so fast.

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Thank you, everyone! These are excellent suggestions.

 

We have been giving dd plenty of driving instruction, but she still needs more time on the freeway and with parallel parking.

 

I had thought about a checking account and possibly a credit card, in case of emergencies. This is not the type of kid who would use a credit card for foolish expenditures. However, she needs a job first! I also wonder if she could even get a credit card on the basis of a part-time job? I don't know.

 

Make sure they know that parking garages are not good places to go alone and other basic safety precautions, like not leaving their laptop in a carrol when they go to the bathroom. Make sure they know about the escort service (most colleges have one, I think). Make sure they have a system for not loosing keys (if they haven't had to deal with keeping one before) like a clip or putting it around one's neck.

 

I recently gave them a lecture on this topic. Just this week I have received two e-mail alerts from Washington University (where I take my education courses) regarding criminal activity. Early Monday morning, I believe, at around 1:00 a.m., a young woman was walking on campus and was pulled into a dark corner and raped. The attacker had a knife. Just one or two days later, two young women were walking at 2:00 a.m. along the perimeter of the campus and were robbed; this time, the attacker had a gun. In no way am I excusing the attacks, but the school has a very good reputation for safety and they do have an escort service. These gals should have used the escort service. By no means should any young woman be walking around campus at night!

 

I've copied and pasted all of these suggestions to a MS Word document and will read through them carefully.

 

Thank you all so much! :)

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We do joint accounts. That takes care of the problem.

So, credit card companies allow that for students? If that's the case, that does ease the problem a bit.

 

I don't anticipate this daughter being irresponsible with the use of a credit card. She hardly spends any money, anyway, and her savings account is in decent shape.

 

Thanks, Nan!

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Set up the bank account early enough that the debit card can arrive in the mail!

 

(We ended up sending dd off to college without a debit card. We weren't sure how she was going to pay for her books! She ended up being able to "charge" them on her student card, but it never ever occurred to us that the debit card would take a few weeks to arrive!)

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I'd certainly welcome advice from you seasoned moms out there! :)
Well, I'm not a seasoned mom, but I'll answer anyway! :)
1. Get dd licensed to drive - big question about whether or not she should have a vehicle that first year of college.

 

2. Dd needs to get a job this summer and earn some money.

You may find that DD cannot earn enough money in a summer to pay the costs associated with having a driver's license for a year. In other words, she may be able to take the summer off and not get her driver's license and come out ahead financially.

 

DS20 is finishing his second year and still does not have a license. He really has not needed one. But he will be getting one as soon as gets back because he got an excellent, well-paying internship in his field! :hurray:

Set up the bank account early enough that the debit card can arrive in the mail!

 

(We ended up sending dd off to college without a debit card. We weren't sure how she was going to pay for her books! She ended up being able to "charge" them on her student card, but it never ever occurred to us that the debit card would take a few weeks to arrive!)

Agreed! Cards are important! We put both DS20 and DD17 on two of our credit cards so that they could make purchases. DS20 also had a bank account with a debit card of his own when he went away. He was 18. DD is 17, so we have decided she can take a little cash until her birthday and then set up an account of her own at Christmastime. (We don't want to set up custodial or joint accounts with each of our kids. It seems like a good time for them to get their own accounts.)

 

One other thing we have done is provided DS20 and DD17 each with a debit card for our Health Savings Account. DS20 has used this to purchase new glasses and it can be used for any health-related purchases.

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You've gotten lots of good advice. My only comment is on the driving issue. It is possible for non-drivers to survive and thrive at many colleges, so waiting might be preferable to sending a newly licensed, inexperienced driver away from home. There's a lot to deal with that first semester.

 

However, one option you might consider is driving school (or perhaps intensive practice with you) over the summer. My neighbor sent her newly-licensed but inexperienced driver to a driving school the summer between high school and college. Because the dd already had her license and light traffic experience, her mom was able to pay for special topics instruction such entering and exiting the freeway. Dh and I did a DIY summer tutorial because commuting was the only feasible option for our son.

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Great advice from everyone!

 

Make sure you encourage your child to keep track of due dates, and teach them how to figure out a syllabus. They should go online and see if there is any reading that needs to be done before the class actually starts.

 

Teach them not to buy books from the bookstore if they can help it, but to look online--but in order to buy online, they need the exact ISBN number. I'll ask ds where he bought his books--last semester, he paid about $450. This semester, he was able to get all his books for under $200. You have to order in advance, tho. It's tricky, but worth it.

 

VCU covered date rape, both hetero- and homo- sxual. Their orientation was excellent and covered a number of situations.

 

We chose NOT to give ds a debit card until he proved he could handle it, so the summer before was a good opportunity to try it out. You do need to have a measure of self control, of course. We found some banks charge if you do a debit, but not if you do credit, but then sock you with huge fees if you go over--Wachovia does this. Checks are nice to have, too. Ds likes to buy movies online and needed a debit card for any online buying.

 

I would skip the car the first year--many colleges don't let you have one, anyway. But in our case, school is only 1.5 hours away, and parking is $50 a month, so the incentive was there not to bring it. He'd have to park off campus, anyway, and there wasn't a point. Ymmv.

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Teach them not to buy books from the bookstore if they can help it, but to look online--but in order to buy online, they need the exact ISBN number. I'll ask ds where he bought his books--last semester, he paid about $450. This semester, he was able to get all his books for under $200. You have to order in advance, tho. It's tricky, but worth it.
I agree with this post, but would like to add a trick that we have been using: Type that exact ISBN number into an eBay search. For many textbooks, you will find several reputable sellers who will cross-reference the text to the international version, which is paperback and costs about 1/3 new of what you would pay for the hardback version new at Amazon. On a typical technical text, we save about $100 and DS20 has not reported any discrepancies between these texts and the US version. (The eBay description *should* tell you about any discrepancies.)
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If your daughter will be getting her license and taking a car to campus, does she know basic automobile care? How to pump her own gas? Where to put various fluids? What to do when lights start flashing on the dash? My recommendation is that a freshman should not have a car unless she is living off-campus.

 

If at all possible, I recommend a self-defense class. Many police departments offer these for a minimal charge. The campus police may also offer such a course.

 

A credit card strictly for emergencies might give you peace of mind. As long as you spell out what is and is not an emergency. Many colleges use student id cards as debit cards. Often these cards are accepted in commercial establishments near the school. If her college does this, find out if and how you can add money to her account.

 

Attending an orientation session is beneficial. Tidbits of useful information often are presented in these sessions. Some colleges offer a 1 credit course titled something like "the student in the university." These courses are designed to help the new student navigate and thrive in the university setting.

 

Remind your daughter that a lot of learning will take place outside the classroom. She will be paying fees for computer labs, physical fitness facilities, and clubs. Make use of the resources for which she is paying. She should attend at least one play or music event, sporting event, art exhibit, free lecture, poetry reading, etc. each term. Work out at the gym.

 

Visit the library. Sign up for a library tour. Become acquainted with the special resources available to her as a student. Many libraries offer small group and one on one training sessions for students.

 

Do not expect the library to have copies of course textbooks. Sometimes professors will put copies on reserve. These typically have a very short loan period - hours to days. If the library does happen to have a copy of the textbook in the circulating collection, there is likely to be a long waiting list. Plan on buying the books.

 

If you live relatively close to her college, plan for her to take minimal possessions for the first few weeks of college living. Move in day is stressful. The less you have to move in, the better. You can make a second trip to bring the winter items and anything she cannot easily obtain locally.

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A number of us have children (adults!? Yikes!) who are graduating this year and transitioning to college. I have a dd who is graduating this May.

 

This will be a big summer for us, getting ready for school.

 

Can anyone--especially those who have BTDT--give us "newbies" good advice as to summer preparations for that first year of college?

 

For example, these are some of my thoughts:

 

 

1. Get dd licensed to drive - big question about whether or not she should have a vehicle that first year of college. Honestly, if she is going to be in the dorms, a car is really not worth it. Most everything they need is within walking distance, and there normally is some form of public transport to get to the actual store if they need anything. Many campuses don't allow freshman to park on campus, or make them park so far out of the way that it isn't worth it.

 

2. Dd needs to get a job this summer and earn some money.

 

3. Dd will also need to contact the school to work out some part-time opportunities there. One option may be tutoring other students. Check the website for the school, my university has a whole list of jobs, all you have to do is go to the career center to apply. Her university may be similar. At my university, they don't let freshman be tutors unless they have tested out of whatever course it was, and even then, they prefer older students.

 

4. Choose the dorm room. Check out the dorm room for what is needed? Schools usually provide a list. Can anyone here list absolute essentials for your first-year student's dorm room? Ask the college what is supplied (normally a bed, desk, dresser, chair). She'll need sheets/pillows/blankets, a computer, clothes, a clothes hamper of some sort (lots of people buy fabric sacks from the army surplus store, makes it easy to carry everything home), hangers, alarm clock, personal care stuff, school supplies, flip flops for the shower, a lot of the girls at my school bought a velcro shower wrap thing so they didn't have to walk to and from their room in a towel, towels/washcloths, possibly a desk lamp (college may provide), pushpins (if they have a bulletin board), trashcan (dorm may provide), it is better to pack too little instead of bringing too much and not having room for it. I'm not sure where your DD is going to college, she may want to bring some cold weather clothes at move in, and get the rest when you visit/she goes home.

 

5. Should the student meet the roommate ahead of time? I never met the roommates ahead of time, my university sent out a card over the summer with contact info for the roommate, it may be helpful to call and see if the other roommate is bringing a tv or microwave or fridge (some schools let you rent the micro/fridge)

 

Any other advice? I've had other thoughts on this topic, but for some reason they've escaped me now.

 

I'd certainly welcome advice from you seasoned moms out there! :)

 

 

Other advice: Don't let her come home every weekend, even though she may want to. I'd advise not letting her come home at all the first few weeks because otherwise she'll miss out on too much of the college lifestyle and meeting people. If you have any specific questions, don't be afraid to ask!

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We're still not certain about the car issue. It depends partly on how things play out this summer as far as jobs are concerned, as well as her own maturity. It would also depend on which school she ultimately decides upon. That decision will be made here in very short order, however! :)

 

I know already that she's independent enough that she doesn't want to come home every weekend, which is a good thing.

 

As far as jobs over the school year, we were going to check on campus. Tutoring was mentioned as a possibility; she's already done quite a bit of peer tutoring in English this year, so that might be right up her alley.

 

Very good suggestions, everyone!

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I have sent one child to college and one goes next year. So many good suggestions you guys have and I thought I was pretty thorough!

 

One thought I'll add: my bank lets us get free checking for underage kids, as a courtesy since we have all our banking with them. We got them checking accounts and check-cards. Each month or two, we sit down and will replenish their accounts with expenditures that we will pay for (school related, gas, etc.) and they note how much they spend on their own stuff. We put in the monthly allowance, but its not much, and they see how quickly the poorly thought out purchases whittle away their own money, too. I really want them to make the connection between the fast flow of using plastic to buy (whether a check card or on credit). They will be better prepared when they get their campus ID which is also usually a credit card....useful at local restaurants, gas stations, fast food, groceries, etc. as well as everything on campus.....it is tracked on their college portal website.

 

Another homey idea: go ahead and buy the microwaves, coffee machines and small fridges, they are plentiful and inexpensive now, and there will mostly be cheaper brands and get sold out in August. Extra long twin mattresses are in most dorm rooms. Lots of cool comforters and stuff on sale at Target right now!

 

Include in the s.e.x. talk (dont' read further if this may offend you) that is you do choose to have sex, you will be essentially getting into bed with every partner that person has been with (gross). Going to a health clinic is the responsible thing to do if you do decide on an active sex life, and testing is neccessary with someone else who is active. And, my favorite last ditch warning, is about making sure this is a person you know and respect enough that you can spend, at minimum, 25 years, talking weekly, working out financial situations, co-operating on the largest project in life: raising the baby you may be creating! My pediatrician cracks me up with some of his choice thoughts in this area. But it has been one of the hardest things in parenting to make my hopes and wishes clear to my children, at the same time as I prepare them to live with the choices they ultimately make, keeping in mind what the statistics tell me.

 

LBS

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2. Dd needs to get a job this summer and earn some money.

 

3. Dd will also need to contact the school to work out some part-time opportunities there. One option may be tutoring other students.

 

My dd depends on tutoring for part of her income, but one disadvantage, at least at her university, is that the requests usually don't start until right before midterms. If your dd needs income right away, she may need to look for additional sources of income. Also, Dd earned a national tutoring certificate this spring which increased her pay rate and enabled her to tutor athletes on probation. These tutoring jobs are more consistent.

 

She has also earned $ as a grader for a professor and a Academic Peer Coach (which is basically a TA who is still an undergrad). I think she was offered both of these jobs because she actually got to know her professors, and she was excited about learning. As a homeschooler, it amazes her how many of her friends never even bother to speak to the profs. even in smaller classes.

 

Surprisingly, my dd's most relaxing job has been babysitting for a local family. The pay is great, the kids are cute, and she gets to eat home-cooked food. This family has been so sweet to her and it's a comfort to know they are nearby and care about our daughter.

 

HTH,

Leanna

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My dd depends on tutoring for part of her income, but one disadvantage, at least at her university, is that the requests usually don't start until right before midterms. If your dd needs income right away, she may need to look for additional sources of income. Also, Dd earned a national tutoring certificate this spring which increased her pay rate and enabled her to tutor athletes on probation. These tutoring jobs are more consistent.

 

She has also earned $ as a grader for a professor and a Academic Peer Coach (which is basically a TA who is still an undergrad). I think she was offered both of these jobs because she actually got to know her professors, and she was excited about learning. As a homeschooler, it amazes her how many of her friends never even bother to speak to the profs. even in smaller classes.

 

Surprisingly, my dd's most relaxing job has been babysitting for a local family. The pay is great, the kids are cute, and she gets to eat home-cooked food. This family has been so sweet to her and it's a comfort to know they are nearby and care about our daughter.

 

HTH,

Leanna

Those are excellent suggestions, Leanna, especially about the tutoring. I did not know that; for some reason I thought the student would be paid by the hour (kind of like being kept on retainer), regardless of who might show up in the tutoring center. I definitely need to ask about this. I think she might make a good academic peer coach, especially in the area of English. That's her strong suit.

 

I'm calling one school today to inquire about this. Thank you!

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