A Parent's Guide to the College Send-off

We've spoken to parents about how they dealt with sending their kids off for their first year of college. Here are their top tips:

  1. Don't pack up their entire room and take everything to college.
    Why? Most dorm rooms are small and usually your child will have to share the room with another person. Bring only the essentials (computer, music, clothes, toiletries) and leave everything else behind. Your child can bring more stuff with them after they visit home for fall or winter break, or you can bring more items when you come for parents' weekend.
  2. WHN TIP: Avoid clothing overload!

    Pack only 2-3 weeks worth of clothing. Why? Because if they have more clothing than necessary, they might not do laundry very often.

  3. Before packing, write down all the serial numbers, make, model and other details of your kid's electronics and other valuables.
    Why? This is in case items are stolen, damaged or lost and you need to file a home owner's insurance claim (check to see if your coverage will still include your kid's belongings while away from home). Read our Home Inventory article for tips and helpful forms to print out to help you keep track of items.
  4. Consider booking visits home well in advance.
    Holiday travel is usually more expensive than usual so book ahead to get the best deals. Most schools post their academic calendar online and this usually list the dates of fall, winter and spring breaks.
  5. Keep your kid's cell phone on your family plan.
    This way you can go online to see the account usage and know when your kid's phone is active (kind of like a monitoring tool).
  6. Understand that your child is officially and legally an adult when he or she turns 18.
    In many cases, your child will have to grant you permission (usually by signing a form) in order to allow you access to their financial, personal and academic information.
  7. Have a talk about finances well before your child heads off to school.
    Your child might not know about overdraft charges, credit card debt, budgeting, online banking, applying for loans and financial aid and other money matters. For a list of helpful financial education links, click here.
  8. If your child doesn't use the college's meal plan ....
    consider signing up for a grocery delivery service and have the company drop off the groceries every 2 weeks or so. That way your child can devote more time to studies and work.
  9. Also, remember that you will most likely have to help your child move out at the end of the year!
    (Another reason not to bring too much stuff!) Bring plenty of cleaning supplies, an extra vacuum and maybe a dolly to help with the cleaning and moving.
  10. For more tips for students and parents, visit our Be Prepared - College page.