The excitement about the upcoming move and start to college is palpable. You walk into a Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond right now and you can cut the familial excitement and anticipation with a knife. In between discussing which comforter your young adult would prefer, or whether or not to buy a printer, let’s sit down and quickly talk about the other important things that need to be checked off the to-do list before starting college.
Academically, your young adult is “ready.” Or so that’s the term that school systems use to measure whether or not a young person is capable of launching academically, socially, and emotionally into adulthood. Sadly, most of the stuff listed below is not necessarily something your young adult would have learned in the classroom. In a hail mary effort to make sure they’ll be able to survive in college, take a moment to walk through these to-do items with your soon-to-be college student!
- Medical Management
If your child is on medication, they need to know a lot information around this. What medication are on they on? What is the name, dosage, and administration sequence? Have them practice filling a prescription, picking it up, and remembering to take their medications. This is a serious cause for concern if they can’t do it alone if they’re dependent on this.
- Making and Attending/Rescheduling Appointments
This could include making a doctor appointment, seeing a therapist, or even scheduling a car appointment. They need to know who to call, where the appointment is and when. They need to plug it in some sort of scheduling system so they actually remember to follow through. In case something comes up and the appointment needs to be rescheduled, they need to make the call themselves. Just not calling or not showing up is unfortunate. And if their was a no-show fee, they need to pay for it out-of-pocket. That would be a damn good natural consequence and they would work hard to never miss an appointment again.
- Understanding Insurance
This is a little open to interpretation and more wishful thinking as even I’m sometimes confused about my insurance. If your young adult is going off to school out-of-state, or out-of-area for your insurance, you need to make sure you’re setting them up for success with understanding what is and isn’t covered. They need to know if they have a co-pay and how much that’ll be. They need to know who their insurance provider is and carry an insurance card. In all fairness, they don’t need to understand the insurance policy in its entirety. That would be like asking them to learn another language overnight. Just make sure they know the basics and know how to speak with a professional about their insurance in case they’re being asked questions about it.
- Waking up without assistance
If you are reading this and immediately went to “well, my child really struggles because…” I’d ask you to stop right there. When they have a job down the road, you are not the one responsible for making sure they’re awake and getting ready to go to work on time. A natural consequence for that would be that they lose their job. That’s rather unfortunate. College is a “safe” place to learn to fail in this regard. If your child registers for an 8:00am class but they don’t wake up early, they’ll fail the class. It’s not your job, nor anyone from the university (no, seriously!) to make sure your child is awake for their class each day. This is a life skill they need to master themselves. As they’re registering for classes for this upcoming fall, ask them to reflect on a realistic time for them to be awake each morning and regularly attend class. If the answer is noon, remember, this is their journey.
- Asking questions
Being able to problem solve in figuring out where to go or who to talk to is one step. Once a young person figures out who it is they need to talk to, there tends to be this paralysis around “what am I supposed to say?” Doing some role playing with your young adult, or allowing them to be the only one who talks during appointments would be beneficial to master these communication skills. Taking it a step further and teaching them what open-ended vs. close-ended questions can also really help facilitate growth being conversational.
- Completing chores
Ok, this might be silly. The reality is, moving to college the majority of students will at-minimum have roommates. Some will be a triple, or sharing a suite with other students. Making sure that your young adult knows the basics of picking up after themselves, taking out the trash when it starts to smell, cleaning out the toilet every so often, replacing the toilet paper roll, and/or knowing how to do the laundry. These are all what we’d say are common-courtesy, and yet nothing is truly “common” nowadays.
After you’ve sat down and gone through this list, if you realize your young adult is capable of mastering these skills with the last few weeks before the semester stars – I say “congratulations” to you as a parent for really setting your young adult up to be able to figure it out on their own. Some of the basic skills listed above can be transferable with any situation your young adult may enough on campus.
Now, if you’re reading these and keep telling yourself your young adult doesn’t know how to do those things or wouldn’t be able to (i.e. refill prescriptions) then I really encourage you to have a conversation with your young adult before they head off to school. For real. These are skills that adults need to be able to successfully complete independently. If they are still dependent on you for all of these to-do items, or most of them, I really charge you as a parent to have a conversation with your young adult about deferring going to college. These are skills truly needed before they move in. If you are continuing to do these things for them, they will never learn and it will only be postponed until post-graduation. The time to grow up and take ownership of mastering these skills is now.