A Checklist for Sending Your Child to College

Working on an action plan together can ease the transition.
By Julie Baumgardner
September 14, 2017

In addition to sending her own two sons to college, Rose-Marie Hippler helps hundreds of families get ready for the college sendoff.

“Having been through this personally as well as professionally, I bring experience and expertise to parents and their young adults as they leap into the next phase of life,” says Hippler, who has a master’s of social work and is an independent educational consultant at Winter Park College Consultants.

“There are usually a lot of emotions stirring around as the anticipation of going off to college draws closer,” she says. “I remember when we were on the countdown. There were days when I thought the first day of college couldn’t get here fast enough. I decided that was a way of preparing you to say goodbye.”

Hippler believes one way parents and their teens can keep nerves and anxiety at bay is to create a plan.  There’s a lot to accomplish before the college sendoff, and it can be overwhelming. Working on a plan of action TOGETHER can be super helpful.

These things may not be on your radar, but Hippler says they need to be on your checklist if you’re sending your child to college:

  • Make sure your teen has had a physical and all the shots they will need. If your teen is on regular medication, you’ll want to transfer their prescription to a local pharmacy and make sure they know how to refill it on their own. And, unless you have signed the HIPAA form, healthcare professionals cannot legally give you information about your injured or hospitalized adult child.
  • Make a copy of everything in their wallet in case they lose it, which will probably happen at least once.
  • Mark all the upcoming events on your calendar. Don’t forget parent’s weekend, sports events you plan to attend, Christmas and spring breaks and even the mid-term and finals schedule. Make hotel and/or travel reservations early for events such as parent’s weekend and airline reservations for your student’s Thanksgiving and winter breaks.
  • If your teen hasn’t already opened a checking account, now is the time. Instead of making all the financial arrangements, let them do it. It gives them a good indication of your investment in their education. Plus, it lets them get the hang of balancing a checkbook and keeping up with their own money. (FYI: If you EVER need to talk to someone at the school about billing, financial aid, or school records, your student must give you permission by signing a FERPA waiver. Otherwise, you’ll get absolutely nowhere.)
  • Alcohol, drugs, sex and consent, campus safety and mental health issues are factors on every college campus. Your teen probably thinks they have a really good handle on things. However, it’s still a good idea to have some serious conversations about campus conduct or what to do in a mental health crisis. There are too many examples of how things that happen in the college years impact people’s lives. [Read How to Teach Your Daughters the Importance of Consent; How to Teach Your Son About the Importance of Consent]
  • If they don’t know how to do their laundry, teach them then let them do their thing. The first time Hippler visited one of her sons, she noticed a stack of sheets in his laundry basket. He explained that he put all three sets of sheets on his bed at once so he could pull off the top fitted and flat sheets and be ready to go. Then he waited until they were all dirty to wash them. It’s not the way she would have done it, but it worked for him.
  • Tell them you believe in them and they have been preparing for this their entire life. From the time they went to kindergarten, to middle school, and then to high school, those firsts have been preparing them for this next step in their journey.

Sending your child to college is a big deal for both of you. If you’re struggling with letting go, find experienced friends to walk you through this time of transition. And keep reminding yourself that this is normal.

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