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Before They Go

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

Now that they’re in, know where they’re going and are thinking about things like housing, roommates, dorm shopping, orientation, courses, majors, move-in day, and enjoying summer, what should you –the college parent– be doing before the craziness really sets in?

Here’s your KnowsyMoms’ Top 5 Things to Do Now (if you haven’t already):

1.     Panic, deny reality and drink heavily.                        

Just kidding. But now that we’ve got your attention, here are some healthier options:

1   Check out the college website, particularly the Parents Program pages and information for freshmen.  Most colleges have a fairly extensive Parents Program, and some offer a forum for parents to discuss various issues about the transition to college and college life.  Events for parents are also generally posted on those pages.  Be sure to sign up for any newsletters or to be added to e-mails directed to parents from the university.

2    Calendar all upcoming dates, through the college’s online academic calendar, including Orientation, Move-in Day, Parents/Family Weekend, Thanksgiving and winter breaks. And don’t forget to calendar due dates for tuition payments and various forms you should have or will be receiving, some of which may need to be downloaded from the school website. (See post on College Forms: Fill ‘Em Out!)

3    If the college is in a new city, do some research on the city, including hotel options, airports and airlines, restaurants, and transportation options.  Check out sites like www.tripadvisor.com, www.lonelyplanet.com, and the city’s visitor bureaus, to get hotel and restaurant information and to find out cool things to do when you’re in town visiting, and whether any citywide events are scheduled that may impact your travel plans.

4    This one’s important: If you have not already done so, make your hotel reservations for Orientation, Move-in Day, and Parents/Family Weekend — if you will be traveling a distance and staying overnight. Depending on where the college is located, and the number and proximity of hotels, they fill up fast. Check “Visiting Campus” on the college website for nearby hotels that offer special discounts. You should also start thinking about airline reservations, if applicable.

5    Start making connections.  Don’t sit in the corner and cry. Reach out, just like you did when your kids were in preschool. Connect with other first-time college parents and those who have already traveled this road.  Ask questions and share info about everything from what to bring to college, best airlines, hotels near campus, and how you’re feeling about your kid leaving.  We’re all going through the same thing. Doing it together makes it a little easier and a lot more fun. Comment on KnowsyMoms blog posts, ask questions and connect with other parents. Meet people through other friends, through your kid, or by joining a Facebook group for parents of incoming freshmen at your kid’s school. You never know what you’ll learn or who you’ll meet. [This blog would not exist if we hadn’t met! –See About Us]

Obviously, there are more than five things to do to get them ready to attend college. There’s certainly more to know. For the full story, download our free New College Parent Toolkit. It’s got our full Summer To-Do-List, Top 10 Things All College Parents Must Know and KnowsyMoms College Shopping List – Essentials & Extras.