The Busy Summer before College
(And how to make the most of it)
Tips for Parents and Tips for Teens
Senior year at high school is undoubtedly a busy one for families getting ready to launch their child off to college. Even with “senioritis” , it is a year that passes quickly for teens. As for parents, before you know it, you will be seated at the graduation ceremony wondering where the time has gone. It is a bittersweet moment to be sure. Soon after wiping away their tears from graduation, summer hits with all the responsibilities for preparation for college. Along with the business are emotional challenges as well. These challenges are present for teens, parents and even siblings being “left behind”.
I really feel that the emotional challenges are more difficult to navigate and will devote a full blog about them from both parents as well as teens perspective. Look for that next week.
But for now, here are just a few tips to get you thinking about how to make the most out of the next few months. Trust me, if you think the first 18 years have flown by, you ain’t seen nothing yet!!
1. I am putting this first for a reason. It is the most important to keep in mind if keeping you sanity and relationships in tact is important. Be PATIENT with you teen and yourself!! As parents, we tend to feel that these last months are our last opportunity to “parent”. We see every misstep of our kid as a never ending pattern of defeat. If they tend to procrastinate, we freak….feeling that they are clearly not ready for college. How will they manage without us? Take a deep breath and trust me when I say that every home that houses an in-coming freshman is going to have some challenging moments! The anxieties of the rapidly approaching move can cause emotions to erupt and tempers to flair. Keep the lines of communication open (counseling can help immensely toward that goal!) and a sense of humor will be essential!
2. Carefully read the reams of information sent from the college. Keep a file for all of this information and make sure your child reads and understands it as well. Most communications from colleges provide helpful tips and important directions on shopping, packing, schedules, and the move-in process, and should not be missed. Based on this info….make a separate calendar with your teen including all the important dates making sure to include shopping dates as well.
3. Work together on the preparation for the move. Don't be burdened alone. Even if you relish doing this one last parenting part for your child, divvy up the “to do” list. This is an important opportunity for your child to take on responsibilities; after all, he/she will soon be living on his/her own.
4. Discuss financial responsibilities ASAP! Don't delay the all-important discussion regarding the money issues until problems come up at college. Develop and agree on a budget that spells out what the respective responsibilities are for parents and student. For many teens, this may be the first time they are responsible for paying bills or dealing with a bank. Time to teach them!
5. Plan some family time together. Too quickly, your college-bound child will be out the door. If circumstances permit, plan a family vacation, a long weekend, or a special outing and enjoy the moments together. Do NOT waste this precious time discussing any college “issues” that might ruin the fun. Make sure the event is one in which both the parents and the young adult will be interestedbecause you will be “competing” with friends and romantic relationships. If your child is really torn, you can always invite a special friend to come with.
6. Anticipate the emotions of the eventual send-off. The departure can be an emotional experience for families and their young adult who is leaving, especially if it is for the first time. For family members, a child leaving the nest can cause feelings of anxiety, loss and fears of the unknown. Whether you are married or divorced, plan something special for yourself to look forward to after the big send-off. You may very well need some pampering after this important transition. Your for sure deserve it!!
1. Through the whole process, be patient and help keep the family lines of communication open. (This is easier said than done!) Parents and children can get on each other's nerves during this transitional stage. Your parents can appear overly obsessed with lists, deadlines, reading materials and responsibilities. It might be helpful for you to realize that externally, you might be projecting indifference and procrastination. This will only make your parents more crazed! It will go a long way to making this summer better if you share with them that internally, you are sometimes feeling overwhelmed, frightened and confused. Sharing your feelings with your parents might be easier to do in a counselor’s office. At this time in life, the worst thing you can do is to shut them out. Being open with each other will foster a better understanding for all and a happier summer for you!
2. Organize. If you have never been too organized before…now is a great time to start. Many times, out of habit, parents deal with the lists, the mail, and the deadlines. It is important for you to take part in the process. Keep your own checklist. Be sure to start early before the fun activities of a summer distract you!
3. If you haven’t already gotten it, request a list of essential packing items from your college. Go over it carefully with your parents to make sure nothing is forgotten.
4. Spend time with your good friends. In many cases, you will be leaving one another to head to different parts of the country. Savor the moments you have. Each of you will be experiencing similar feelings and doubts as you prepare for this exciting and somewhat frightening step forward. Sharing thoughts and concerns with each other can help to validate your own feelings and let you know you are not alone.