Transitioning to college life can be difficult on both students and families. From new expenses to a new lifestyle, being prepared for what lies ahead can help you avoid common bumps in the road.
Here are five things families with college-bound students should consider:
• Getting involved: Being away from home and making new friends can seem daunting. Encourage your student to get involved in school activities and events. From joining the campus paper to running for student government, there are a range of extracurricular opportunities that can lead to new friendships, help students maintain an active calendar and round out one’s classroom education.
• Health and wellness: Late nights spent studying instead of sleeping, as well as crowded dorm rooms, can be a prescription for colds and flu. Check out on-campus and local health care options before your student gets sick. No one wants to scramble to research medical options when he or she isn’t feeling well. Many campuses offer student insurance. See what makes the most sense for your family. Locate a nearby pharmacist before visiting the doctor so you can provide that information at your appointment.
• Financing College: College may be one of your family’s biggest investments to date. Whether that describes your family or not, there’s no doubt about it, higher education comes with a big price tag. It’s never too late in the process to seek out new financing options, even if your child is already away out school.
From filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, to exploring private loans, free online resources can help guide you through the process. Check out resources designed for college-bound students and their families, such as Wells Fargo’s “5 Steps to Financial Aid” video series, which offers helpful advice on finding a scholarship, applying for loans, and more from “Mr. Fellows, your wiser college advisor,” at www.WellsFargo.com/fivesteps.
• Staying in touch: You’re busy. Your kid is busy. But regular check-ins with your student can help you know that everything is going well. Set up a weekly appointment to chat by phone and get the scoop — just make sure your student’s phone plan allows for sufficient texting and calling.
• Money management: For many students, college is the first time they will gain some financial independence. Set your kids up for success by teaching them how to establish a workable budget. A checking and savings account designed for college students can help them stay on track. You can review money-management tools for college students at www.WellsFargo.com.
Don’t let the transition to college catch your family off guard. Parents can make the transition easier for students by striking the right balance of “letting go” and staying involved.