6 Tips to Prepare Your Teen for College
● By Sandy Kauten
The summer before the start of college is an important time for both teens and their parents. I recommend moms and dads consider these tips to help get their kids, and themselves, ready for this next big step:
- Prepare medically. Be sure to have your teen see their primary care provider and get up to date on their immunizations, including the meningococcal B vaccine and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which can prevent the most common sexually transmitted infection and protect against cervical cancer, as well as other types of cancer. Locate the phone number for the school’s health center and be sure your teen knows how to access medical help while on campus.
- Have a talk about the “hard stuff.” Underage drinking, sex, illicit and prescription drugs and driving under the influence are all critical discussions to have with your child prior to college. Even if you believe your child will make good choices, emphasize your concern for their safety. Discuss birth control and encourage the use of condoms if they do decide to be sexually active.
- Discuss finances. Be sure your child understands what their budget is for food, housing, and living expenses. If you will be supporting them financially while at school, arrange for your teen to have cash or cards with a spending limit.
- Emphasize the importance of healthy living. A lot of young adults struggle with self-care when they move away from home. Encourage adequate sleep, regular exercise, healthy eating and stress outlets—all promote good health.
- Help your child build their new “village.” Encourage your teen to connect with other students, school advisors, activity groups and any relatives who live nearby, so that they feel well supported while at college.
- Give your child space. Your teen needs to feel what it is like to live on their own. Try to find the right balance between constantly being in touch and letting your child find their wings.
College is an exciting new chapter for many young people, but it can be a bittersweet time for parents. If you need support preparing for this transition, talk with your pediatrician.
By Pilar Bradshaw, M.D., F.A.A.P.