Congratulations. Your high school senior has been admitted to college, has told the world about this choice on Instagram and is celebrating graduation with family and friends.
Now it's time to get your student ready to leave for college and be healthy, successful and safe there, too.
"It's not just finding the twin XL sheets that most freshmen-dorm beds need,” says Mary Dell Harrington, coauthor of Grown and Flown, which includes lengthy chapters about the process of launching children for college. “That's the easy part.”
The hard part is preparing young adults to live on their own and take on new responsibilities, whether that's understanding when and how to seek medical treatment or learning how to plan the days to complete tougher academic demands.
"It's much easier to get wrapped up in the tangible,” Harrington notes. “You may forget about the more important things."
Here are five areas to pay close attention to when prepping your child for college life.
1. Physical and mental health
At college most freshman will be responsible for monitoring their health for the first time. Before leaving for college, they will need a thorough physical, including any necessary vaccinations. This fall many colleges will require a COVID-19 vaccination for students living on campus.
Before moving into the dorm, students should know where to find health care on campus as well as local urgent cares, pharmacies and a hospital. If mental health support is needed, students should determine whether a therapist currently treating them can offer virtual appointments to a client who resides in a different state. Students may need to find a new therapist on campus or in the college community.
Students should also prepare to manage any prescription medications, both how to fill them and ensure they are renewed on time.
To deal with minor ailments and injuries, parents should make sure to include a first aid kit on the shopping list. Mir Kamin, the mother of a recent college graduate and a rising college senior, included instructions on how and when to use over-the-counter medications and other directions.
In addition, Kamin suggests purchasing a small safe for prescription medication. Some medicines, especially stimulants used to treat ADHD, are targets for theft because they can be sold illegally. The safe is also a good place to keep passports, social security cards and spare keys, she adds.