College is a teen’s first foray into serious independence. It’s also the last hurrah before adult responsibilities really start to kick in.
This combination can prove problematic for students who embrace freedom and partying a little too much. Even if you are sending a conscientious A-student to the dorms, they’re on their own. And no matter how well you’ve prepared them, some lessons must be learned the hard way.
1) Money doesn’t go far.
Whether your student is living on a small campus and using a meal plan bankrolled by you, or has been let loose in a city and left to their own means, they’ll quickly discover that money doesn’t go far. Managing the new world that is college, keeping up with coursework, and navigating a social life may make holding down even a part-time job difficult.
If your teen didn’t learn much about saving and spending before going to college, they’ll be forced to adjust quickly once they’re in the thick of it.
2) It’s not easy to live with people.
Having to share a mini-fridge, bedroom, bathroom, and general space with a stranger (or even a BFF) in about 200 square feet is a challenge and then some. Living with others means coordinating sleep schedules, guests, and study time. In other words, compromise. Unfortunately, for some college students, their roommate’s extracurricular activities could force some tough decisions.
3) Calories add up.
With college comes pizza and beer, not to mention carbohydrate-heavy dorm fare. And those foodstuffs have plenty of calories. There may be a lot of hoofing it from class to class, and your teen may have the good fortune of a still-strong metabolism, but calories add up. If junk food is a staple, the “freshman 15” will hit hard.
4) You are your own babysitter.
Your college student may have relied on you as an alarm clock, calendar, and reminder system throughout high school, but now they’re on their own. Balancing responsibilities and obligations with getting to class on time and keeping up with assignments can have some students struggling, pulling all-nighters, and operating at high levels of stress. It pays to keep a to-do list and stay organized.
5) Cluelessness is part of life.
College freshmen have the world at their feet, and that is exhilarating. But they also have a lot of decisions to make about their major, roommates, good and bad choices, and which route is the fastest to their 8:00 am class. College makes many young people feel clueless, but this feeling is a normal part of life that will hit them again and again. Teach your kid to embrace the unknown and not be afraid to ask questions. They don’t need all the answers right now.