The day I sent my son off to college was one of the happiest, saddest, scariest and proudest of my life. It was hard to believe he was all grown up and ready to move on to the next great chapter of his life. Like any parent, I wondered what will my child need for college? I wanted to share some thoughts on how to practically prepare your graduate for the experience.
Cookware and utensils
You are no doubt worrying about whether your kid will be eating properly, and with good reason. A healthy diet will fall by the wayside with school and social life taking priority. Fast food is always an alluring temptation in college (24/7)! Provide your child with a great quality cookware set and basic utensils. Having the right equipment will encourage them to rely less on junk and spend time in the kitchen. I put together a notebook filled with quick, easy, nutritious recipes as additional encouragement and it worked like a charm.
Reliable Transportation and Resources
Many college students rely heavily on cars to get around but have little idea about maintenance. Ensure they have jumper cables, a solid jack/spare tire and a reliable roadside assistance number will ensure they can keep the vehicle running. Teach them how to change a tire and jump start a battery if you haven’t already.
Whether your child is living in a dorm or student housing, a well-stocked toolbox will always come in handy. A bunch of 18-22-year-olds in close quarters with little supervision is a sure-fire guarantee something is going to get broken. Provide a basic toolset allowing them to make any minor repairs required. This will save you some handyman fees or even rent deposits.
Bumps, scratches, bruises and perhaps the occasional self-inflicted “headache” are an inevitable part of life. Make sure your freshman is equipped with a first aid kit so they can look after themselves when life’s little mishaps hit. Have your child complete a basic first-aid training course before they head off to school. You may not only help your own child but ensure they can help others in case of emergency.
Housework may not have proven to be one of your child’s strong suit at home. However, without Mom to run around after them to clean up their mess, many freshmen end up living in conditions most of us would find terrifying. Few people think to provide their undergrad with basic cleaning supplies such as a hand vacuum cleaner so they can create some semblance of tidiness. Cleaning supplies and equipment might not be glamorous, but will prove useful.
In conclusion, we may not be able to provide our children with the tools to meet every challenge they will face, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give them a fighting chance. Ultimately, our kids need to learn to look after themselves while getting the “college experience.” Good luck!
Thinking about going to college yourself? Read our post on Preparing for College When You Have Young Kids.
This post was previously published in July 2013 as a collaboration with one of our partners. We have refreshed the content as of February 2021.