Are they Ready? 7 Ways to Prepare your Kids for College

1. Teach Daily Living Skills

Do you still do your teen’s laundry? Ever remind them to brush their teeth or take their medication? Daily living skills are important not only important for their own self care and health, but socially as well.  A dirty dorm room or poor hygiene could impact your college student’s ability to make friends. Ensure they can perform basic household tasks and have a system for remembering daily self care skills.

2. Talk about Money

Learning how to manage money is difficult for many college students.  First, you’ll want to address what expenses you will help your college student with.  Do they have a monthly or weekly budget for food, school supplies, or other necessities?  Will you be giving them any spending money to go out with friends or are they expected to have a part time job to cover these expenses? College students are often enticed with free gifts paired with credit card offers, while not fully explaining interest charges and fees.  Ensure they understand banking and how to build credit responsibly.

3. Establish a Communication Plan

How often to you expect to hear from your college student?  Work together to find the right combination of texts, calls or video chats that make you comfortable your child is doing ok, while also being careful to not be overbearing.  Let them initiate as they’ll still be getting used to their new schedule and balancing classes, homework and meeting new people.

4. Set Academic Goals

Have a realistic conversation regarding what types of grades you expect from your college student.  Take into consideration that they may need a little bit of time to learn the difference between homework expectations and exams in college vs. high school. This doesn’t mean though that failing grades 1st semester is part of a “learning curve.”  If they start struggling academically, talk about where they can get some additional help whether it come from individual meetings with teaching assistants or tutoring centers on campus.

5. Talk about Safety

Whether you talk about walking home alone after a night of studying, the dangers of binge drinking, or keeping dorm rooms locked you’ll want to review personal safety with your college student.  Some schools offer late night rides home or emergency call buttons placed around campus. Review what is available at your child’s school with them.

6. Encourage Socializing

Making friends can be difficult and scary the first few weeks of college.  Encourage your child to attend welcome activities, join clubs or intramural sports, and take advantage of various social opportunities on campus.

7. Make Mental Health a Priority

Mental health concerns should be taken seriously both before and after your child goes away to college.  If they already have a therapist, talk about whether they’ll continue counseling through skype sessions or phone calls, or if they should seek a new therapist on campus.  Consider setting up their first appointment before they even start their first week of classes. While you’d never want to anticipate your child experiencing symptoms like depression or anxiety, it’s important to talk about how they would cope with these emotions and remind them you’re only a phone call away if they need support.


The transition from high school to college can be a stressful one but talking about these areas will hopefully prepare you for this exciting journey your child is about to begin.  If there is anything the staff at Gurnee Counseling Center can to do help as you prepare your child for college, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 847-336-5621.