Weekly College Column

Getting ready for the big transition – Wine or Whine!

Some of you may be dreaming about your soon-to-be empty nest, while others of you are dreading walking past the empty bedroom your senior currently occupies.

Regardless of the “Wine” or “Whine” camp you fall into, there are some valuable things you should be thinking about, talking about, and doing prior to their departure.

Have a few serious conversations with them:

  1. Money management – set expectations about how they spend your money and their own money. It’s helpful for many kids to actually see a budget of their anticipated expenses each month and what’s specifically in their accounts. Most students will do better with a debit card because it’s almost impossible to not be aware of their daily balance. Set up a bank account if your child doesn’t already have one and explain the concept/expense of overdrafts. Life on a college campus can be expensive, so try not to apply your 80’s or 90’s mindset to what you think they should be spending.
  2. Health – focus your conversation on their physical health – getting enough sleep, drinking water, and eating well; but don’t forget to talk about their mental health. The stigma that used to be attached to mental health issues and counseling has thankfully been extinguished and almost all students are open and interested in talking to someone if they’re feeling depressed or unhappy. Share your own experiences with homesickness; it’s a natural part of the process. Make sure they’re aware of the on-campus and off-campus resources where they’re located. Make sure they know where the closest Emergency Room is and how to get there.
  1. Summer – talk to your kids about how they choose to spend their time, this last summer at home. Hopefully, they’re willing to spend more time with you, their siblings, and their grandparents, if they’re local. Encourage them to make this summer as meaningful as possible and understand that this is a special time, and they are not the only ones who will be going through a transition. This doesn’t mean that they should ignore their friends, but search for a solid balance.
  1. Adjusting to college life – encourage them to get involved in new organizations or clubs and get out of their comfort zone to meet new people and expand their life experiences. Remind them that their roommate is also probably nervous and scared; so be understanding.

 Things to do:

  1. Write them a letter – share your thoughts on their growth, their opportunities, your pride, and what you wish for them. It will make you cry, but it will be a cherished keepsake for them.
  2. Plan dedicated family time – try to create as many summer experiences for the family as possible; that may just mean a weekly hike, a family vacation, game night, a drive-in movie, etc. It will be nice for everyone to look back on this summer with fond memories.
  3. Get contact information – Make sure you leave the drop-off with the contact information of a friend, roommate or residential advisor. You don’t want to panic or worse (drive to campus or check emergency rooms) when your teen doesn’t answer his/her phone.  They probably just forgot to charge their phone. Promise them you won’t reach out without sufficient provocation; that will need to be negotiated individually.
  4. Give them the best hug they’ve ever gotten. Tell them you love them and are always there for them, day or night.

Bierer is an independent educational consultant based in Charlotte. Send questions to: leesbierer@gmail.com and visit www.bierercollegeconsulting.com. 



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