What *NOT* to Bring to a College Dorm Room
If you haven’t started dorm shopping for your incoming freshman yet, we are here to tell you that you probably shouldn’t bother. You see, our daughters have cleaned out just about every store and depleted us of our stack of Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons. Ok, so we are kidding… sort of. With our extensive experience of our kids, nieces, and nephews we have learned that there are a few things you really don’t need to purchase and bring.
Curtains. I know it says that students can bring curtains to cover up their closets because dorm closets have no doors but trust us; the curtains will spend more time on the floor or pushed to the side. And when they crash to the floor in the middle of the night, no one is happy.
Is There a Budget 101 Class?
If there is a budget class, sign them up! I’m going to start with the dreaded comment starting “when I was in college, we didn’t have…” (insert teenager eye-roll here). All of us at HaveUHeard can say that we did not have computers, iPads, or cell phones to help us bank, and somehow, we managed to survive.
I can vividly remember making the dreaded call home to my father to ask for money. My parents had three daughters at UF at the same time so finances were a sensitive subject. This was before cell phones (think wall corded phones) and, dare I say it, before the internet. Banking required you to wait for the statement to arrive in the mail. Since we only spoke once a week (again, no such thing as texting, emails or cell phones), having to mention needing money was not exactly a wanted subject. During college breaks, he would sit me down to discuss why I bounced a check, and why I could not live on a budget and other financial issues.
Parent & Family Weekends
Every school has some version of Family Weekend. This is a great time to see your student in their “natural habitat” on campus. You will see them in their new independent role and have the chance to meet some of their friends. There is some debate on whether Family Weekend is worth the travel and expenses vs. coming on another, less-crowded weekend. We’ve done both.
Our first experience with Family Weekend we booked a hotel a year in advance, booking every weekend in that specified month while we waited for the big announcement as to the actual dates. Then, go back and cancel all the unneeded weekends. Hotels have caught on and began requiring deposits and changing cancellation policies. (Check when booking.)
Tutoring is Beneficial
This is not high school where a student can often coast by; succeeding at University level requires taking classes seriously. At the same time, there are many other opportunities to get involved and enjoy these four years including football games, Greek life, and outdoor activities. A student needs to be able to balance all of this which can prove daunting to many. But since they have such a selective admissions process, the understanding is that many of these students have already been faced with balancing academics and social and civic activities.
If your student mentions they are having difficulty, there are many places to turn including speaking with their professor or teacher assistant. There are also peer academic study groups. For many classes, students are turning to outside assistance.
Scholarships: Our Suggestions
Almost as soon as the first acceptance to college came in, so did the idea of actually having to pay for their tuition and room and board. When they were small it was something we always envisioned we would do and planned accordingly. With so many scholarships available today, the trick is finding the ones that suit your student’s needs and that they will qualify for. Some scholarships are quite competitive, some last for four years, and some are downright silly, but pay for something. All make those bills for the next four (or more) years more bearable.
Every year, I hear stories about thousands of dollars in scholarship money that are never applied for. It does take a lot of work and time to research scholarships, apply for them, and to validate the authenticity of them.
No One Likes to Get Sick
It’s bound to happen. At some point, while our kids are at college, the phone will ring and suddenly our mature, independent college student will sound like a preschooler again. There is little worse than when they tell you how sick they feel and you are far away. Hopefully, and most likely, their illness will be a result of their new-found independence that includes lack of sleep and exercise, stress, not-so-healthy food, hygiene habits that don’t embrace enough hand-washing, and can be cured quickly and easily.
I sent my daughter to college with a “things you may need that Mom thought of just in case” box, in case you get sick. Inside I had a thermometer, vitamins, the medicines for a cold, sinus infection, stomach ache and other common ailments. If the health center on campus is inconvenient due the hours or long wait times, there are alternatives. We recommend off-campus walk-in clinics and emergency services.