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Here you’ll find our KnowsyTips — things we’ve learned along the way. Hope you find them helpful!


Summer Storage

Before summer break, encourage your student to take coats and sweaters they won’t need to a dry cleaner near campus. They can have everything cleaned and ask if the cleaners would be amenable to storing items for them over the summer.

Summer Storage


Campus Resources

There are many resources on campus to assist students with those services they might need to help them succeed at college. Getting students to use the resources, however, is another story. One resource that many college kids don’t even think about until they are a junior or senior is career services. Encourage your student to visit career services on campus, beginning freshman year.  They can access invaluable information about jobs and internships for the school year, summers, and beyond. With the difficult job market facing college graduates, your student will be ahead of the curve if they begin using these resources early in their college career to start building their resume and learn about opportunities in their field of study.

Great Campus Resources


Spring Admit or Gap Semester

Some students who are admitted to college to begin in the spring semester, or those who want to take some extra time before diving right in, decide to take classes at other institutions, either local or abroad. If your student is planning to take a semester or gap year studying abroad or at an alternative academic program unaffiliated with the college, make sure they check with their college registrar in advance to ensure course credits will transfer.

Spring Admits


College Grades 

Freshman year is a time of transition and it may take some time for your student to settle in to a new way of studying, writing and test-taking. Don’t be surprised if the first couple of semesters start off a bit rocky in terms of expected grades. However, if you do see a significant change in grades for the worse as school progresses, this may signify other problems your student may be having.  Listen to your student and try to determine if there is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed. Don’t ignore your instincts!

Be aware: Plagiarism is a major issue on college campuses. Students need to understand what it is and know their school’s policy. While many college classes may require collaboration among students, the professors fully expect that the work turned in by a student is their own. Some colleges use scanning sites or programs to detect plagiarism.  (See: The Facts on Plagiarism in College)

College Grades: B is the new A


College Career Services

Campus resources are available for the taking. An often overlooked resource, particularly during freshman year, is career services. Encourage your student to visit career services on campus, beginning freshman year.  They can access invaluable information about jobs and internships for the school year, summers, and beyond. With the difficult job market facing college graduates, your student will be ahead of the curve if they begin using these resources early in their college career to start building their resume and learn about opportunities in their field of study.

Great Campus Resources


Living at Home • Going to College

If your student is commuting to college from home, it can be challenging to get your student to feel like they are part of the college community.  Encourage your student to check out resources on campus for commuter students. Many colleges, recognizing the need to engage more with these students, are setting aside space in student centers and are even forming special clubs, specifically for commuter students.

Living at Home • Going to College


Moving Off-Campus

If your student is thinking of moving out of the on-campus dorms and into off-campus housing, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your student is aware of their school’s housing policies before they decide to move off-campus. At some schools, once college students move off-campus they may lose priority if they want to re-enter the on-campus housing lottery in subsequent years.
  • Unless each tenant has a separate lease agreement with the landlord, which is generally not the case, know that if you are a co-signer of the lease you can be held responsible for the balance of the rent if a roommate fails to pay, or for any damage caused by any of the other roommates. Encourage your student to make sure potential roommates are responsible and able to pay their share of rent and other expenses before agreeing to live together off-campus.

Beyond Freshman Year: Moving Off Campus


Property Insurance

If your student’s property is insured either through your homeowner’s insurance or through a renter’s or personal property policy, make sure your student creates and keeps a list of valuable possessions such as computers, electronics, jewelry, and musical instruments (with models and serial numbers, if possible) and takes photographs of these items, since proof of possession and a specific description of the property at issue will be required in the event a claim needs to be made.

Protecting Student Property at College


Parents & Family Weekend

If you are planning to attend Parents and Family Weekend at your student’s college, here are some things you might want to do:

  • Bake a batch of their favorite cookies (or purchase their favorite snack) and bring enough for your kid to share with friends and roommates.
  • Encourage your kid to invite a friend, one whose family could not be there for Parents & Family Weekend, to come to dinner with you. The student will appreciate the company – and the free meal off-campus!
  • Book your flights, hotels and restaurants for Parents & Family Weekend now! Hotels and restaurants near campus fill up quickly for college event weekends. Check the school website for hotels that offer discounts for students and their families.
  • Check the city guide online for the city where the school is located to find out what else is happening in the area that weekend. You might find something fun and different to do while in town.

Together Again: Parents & Family Weekend


Adding Up The Airline Miles

If college will be taking your kid far from home, consider this:  If they only come home for winter break and summer vacation, you will be booking 16 (one-way) flights over the next four years!  Add your visits and other trips home and it can really add up.

But think of all the miles you will accumulate.  Miles=free flights. And miles accumulate even faster if you have a credit card that gives you airline miles.  So, now that you know where your kid is going to college, start researching travel options.

Check out which airlines have the most desirable flight times, most non-stop options, closest airports, frequent flyer programs and the best fares. Once you settle on the airline for you, join the frequent flyer program and consider getting a credit card that will give you miles that can be used for free flights on that airline.  If you use that card for groceries, gas and airline tickets, the miles really add up quickly.  You’ll be amazed at how much money this will save you!

What to Know Before They Go: The Top 5 Things College Parents Should Do Now


Don’t Leave Home Without ‘Em

Don’t forget to send along these important documents when your kid leaves for college (and keep copies at home):

*Driver’s License (for identification and driving)

*Social Security Card (for work-study, on or off-campus jobs, and registration)

*Passport (for travel and study abroad applications)

*Immunization Records (in case needed for medical care)

*Health Insurance Cards (for visits to hospital and on-campus health services)

*Prescriptions (for refill or transfer to local pharmacy)

*Banking Documents (debit cards, on-line banking instructions, and account information)

 Packing for College: Don’t Leave Home Without ‘Em


Dorm Room Dish

Check out the dorm room floor plan online—most colleges provide this on their websites – as well as details about what furniture and extras are provided.  Bed, Bath & Beyond is also a good resource, as they have information on hundreds of colleges’ residential life policies and can tell you what is permitted in the dorm rooms.

Get nice bedding. You may get something in the mail from a company offering dorm room “sets” that are delivered right to the dorm room. While this appears to be a convenient, less expensive way to go, we don’t recommend it.  The quality is not great (one freshman said her sheets felt like sandpaper), the selection is limited and the sets may include things you really don’t need or exclude things you may really want. KnowsyMoms is big on the little creature comforts that help ease your kid’s adjustment to college life. Besides, you don’t want to miss out on the shopping experience, do you?

 (Part I) Buying Stuff for College: The Perfect Shopportunity

KnowsyMoms College Shopping List


Get Oriented

If your student has a choice on when to attend orientation, consider this: Assuming orientation includes registering for classes, you may want to opt for one of the earlier summer orientations to get a spot in courses that typically fill up fast.

 College Orientation: What’s It All About?


Move-In Day Madness

Get to school early.  Get the schlepping of the stuff up to the dorm room as early as you can so you can enjoy the rest of the day.  Dress comfortably for hauling boxes and wear shoes you can really walk in. (Many dorms do not have elevators so prepare to walk up lots of stairs!) Stay for the school events – they help give you and your kid a real sense of the place they are going to call home for the next four years.  Do not wear out your welcome. Know when it is time to say a quick goodbye and leave.  The sooner you leave, the sooner your kid can start feeling settled in their new surroundings

Be helpful but let your kid take the lead. Remember, it is their dorm room not yours. While you may want the satisfaction of seeing everything unpacked and set up, they may not want your help. Let it go.

Consider writing a letter to your son or daughter over the summer that you can leave with them to read after you’ve dropped them off at school.  The letter could express all the things that are sometimes difficult to relay verbally — your love for them, your hopes and expectations about how they will embrace and balance all that’s ahead, that kind of mushy stuff.

Get your kid’s roommate’s cell phone number, in case of an emergency.

College Move-In: Planning for the Big Day

Move-In Day: A Room of Their Own


Got Work Study?

If your student has been given work study as part of their financial aid package, encourage your kid to secure a job ASAP. Some schools run out of jobs, making it impossible to benefit from the work study aid!


Monthly Allowance

Will you be providing your student with an allowance at college for spending money? How much is reasonable? Consider having your kid keep track of expenses for a couple of months at the beginning of freshman year.  This will help them learn what they actually spend money on and help you come up with a realistic monthly allowance.

College Cash: What’s in Their Wallet?


Scholarship Red Tape

If your student is the recipient of a scholarship from an entity other than their college, they may need to provide proof of enrollment before the funds are credited to their account at school.  That means, your student will need to enroll in classes and get the necessary documentation from the Registrar. They should contact the Bursar or finance department at the college to learn about the proper protocol.


Home for Winter Break?

If your kid is flying home for winter break, you might want to wait to book their flights until they know their final exam schedule. Many students finish taking finals days before the term officially ends and may be ready to come home as soon as they are done. Also, when booking their return flight to school, keep in mind that kids may want to have a day or two back on campus to settle in before the next term’s classes start again.


Sunday Skype

Keeping in touch can be a challenge depending on where your student is at school (is there a time difference to consider?) and everyone’s schedule. Consider setting up a ‘regular’ Skype time with your student (we like Sunday evenings but let your student pick the time) to check in and hear about their week. The conversations do not have to be long. Stay flexible; due to commitments, you or your student may need to cancel or reschedule from time to time.

Staying In Touch While Letting Go


The College Bookstore 

Did you know that Barnes & Noble has partnered with almost 700 colleges to operate the college bookstores, offering a large selection of textbooks in a wide variety of formats—new, used, digital, rental—and a fairly competitive buy-back program? To see if your kid’s school participates, go to

College Textbook Primer: A Variety of Options


More KnowsyTips will be coming. Check back here often. And please, comment here and share your own KnowsyTips!