Expert Advice: What Every College Student Needs to Know

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There has been much discussion about sending the little ones off to school – how many masks to buy, do I have enough hand sanitizer, and should they ride the bus? How about those mommas who are sending their babies off to college?!

Let’s hear it for the mommas in the back – the ones who have spent 17+ years getting their little ones ready for ADULTHOOD.

I have spent 30 years welcoming those “babies” to college campuses in Louisiana, Texas, and now Florida. The feeling of youth is evident on a university campus. Each fall I feel like I am 18 years old again….and again….and again. Being young and carefree is wonderful, but going off to college does come with some responsibility.

New Argonauts, with the help of their families, check-in on campus and move into various residence halls as part of Move-In Day on Aug. 18, 2020.

A crash course in having your babies take some responsibility in their journey to adulthood may be necessary. Add in a few tips for success and bam!  You have an adult. Here are a few things to help you help your college-bound child during this new journey.

Academic Success Tips

Organization

Academic success starts with organization. Putting all assignments, deadlines, and due dates in a planner for the first few weeks of college sets the tone for the semester. I love Emily Ley’s Simplified Planner products, or for an electronic planner, use Google calendar. Even if they have never used a planner before, it is not too late to help them effectively organize their day using either a paper or electronic calendar.

Tutoring

If you attended a parent orientation, you probably heard about the college’s tutoring services or the Academic Success Center. During the first few weeks of class, have your college student run (not walk!) to sign up for tutoring in the subject(s) they struggled with in high school. Students who have attended the university for a few semesters are great resources for classes that may require some tutoring help. They may think it is too early in the semester to get tutoring – wrong! When you need help mid-semester, all the appointments will be taken by the students who signed up early.

Get Involved! 

Help your college student pick one thing to get involved in. Student Life/Activities offices everywhere work hard to program activities for engaging the student body. By now, you know social distancing has rocked the college involvement team at universities everywhere. It is especially important to get our young adult involved, even if it is virtual. There is some neat stuff going on at universities to promote virtual engagement.

Adulting Without Your Momma

Medical

Can your college student make a doctor’s appointment? Do you know a doctor in their new college town/city? Universities have health clinics that provide triage type services with easy access. At some point, your young adult may need to see a doctor outside of that clinic.

TIP:  Add an entry to their phone contacts as “Insurance”. Put information about the medical policy they are under in that entry. Then have a lesson is making a doctor’s appointment. You can also take a picture of the card and put it in a picture folder on their phone. Most importantly, make sure their phone is secure.

Does your college student know basic over the counter (OTC) medicines and how to read the label for dosage? One of my students in a freshman success course I taught came to my office requesting to talk to me. I was ready for an engaging conversation on something I taught in class. Nope – he needed help deciding what OTC medication he needed. I walked him over to the campus store and reviewed a few things. Then he asked me, “how much do I take?” I changed my teaching topic during the next class to some essential adulting issues.

Dining

Campus dining services have changed for the better! So many choices and options at their fingertips. Have them download the Tapandgo app so they can order food that is ready in between classes or when they are in a hurry.

Laundry

The next tip – teach them how to do laundry…..then send them to my house! I hate laundry, so I refuse to go into detail, but you get my drift. And please do not tell your college boys that a way to meet college girls is to get them to show you how to do laundry.  College girls don’t know either!

Adapting

Here are a few suggestions on how NOT to look like a first-year college student:  (1) Have your college student take a picture of their schedule and set that as the screen saver;  (2) preserve their high school letterman’s jacket or graduation gear. This way, they can’t take those items to college; and (3) encourage them not to come home every weekend (Sorry, mommas!). Suggest they hang out on campus – wearing a mask, of course.

Campus Safety Tips

I got these first-hand tips on being safe on a college campus from my resident expert. My husband, Marc, has 35 years in law enforcement on a college campus. He offers the following suggestions and encourages mommas to go over these with their college students.

Most universities have the Guardian App. This app is like your own personal emergency phone. A college student can upload information about allergies, class schedule, a picture, and other personal information. If the student presses a specific button, the police department will get the exact GPS coordinates and the information the student uploaded.  This is especially helpful if the student is frequently traveling. A student should never put their date of birth, driver’s license number, or social security number in the app.

UWF student using the new Guardian app, which aims to heighten the safety measures for all students at UWF.

All universities have an alert system. Students need to sign up for campus alerts. Multiple parent phone numbers may be entered by the student, so the parent gets alerts as well.  Alerts vary in type from active shooter alerts to weather information.

Universities like the University of West Florida Police Department have the Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training program. Marc highly encourages all female students to take this class that focuses on getting out of situations or how to fight to get out of a situation. For more campus safety tips, click here.

One Last Nugget of Advice…

Mommas help your college kids gain independence by encouraging them to set up video chats, face time, or zoom visits with their family. Doing this will allow both the student and those at home to stay connected and share experiences. Hopefully, this will limit the number of calls and text messages throughout the day. Understandably, during the beginning of the semester, there will be an unusually high number of texts and calls. The road to independence needs to provide the student with opportunities for their own decision-making.

Now let’s see that first day of college picture!

 

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