Preparation for College Life Part I

What to Expect and What Not to Expect   
~ by Shelly A Meyers

The anticipation of sending a child to college can be overwhelming. For the first time your child will be responsible for doing the laundry, finding food, doing homework, and managing money without the help of you, the parent. So what should you expect? College is tough for the “regular” kids—and your kid happens to have ADHD. This poses a few additional worries. For the first time your child will wonder what happened to the laundry fairy that brings the fresh clean clothes…she’s on vacation!! So, teach your child to do the laundry at a laundromat before you send them off. When you go for the campus visit ask where the facilities are and how much it will cost per load. Stuff a roll of quarters into the suitcase so that laundry can be done at least until fall break.  

Finding food is the next venture. If you have bought the meal plan, it should last the entire semester depending on the plan, so be sure to read the fine print. Some campuses allow students to eat every meal every day; others only have a set amount of meals before the student is cut off or has to pay an additional fee for additional meals. If your child is an athlete it is imperative that he or she stays healthy—so you’ll have the aid of athletic trainers. One thing to remember is that appetite is altered by some ADHD medications, so the trainers need to be made aware so that modifications can be made if need be. You may have to educate the head trainer for the signs that you child has not eaten. Trainers monitor for rapid weight loss, but there may be other signs unique to your child’s situation. Also, be sure your child budgets for eating out. Cafeterias may only serve two meals on weekends, so make sure the schedule is posted or can easily be found in your child’s dorm room. 

HOMEWORK, done, done, donnnnne! The good thing about homework is that on college campuses there are loads of resources for getting academic support. Talk to your disabilities services advisor, as programs differ drastically in the services they provide. Some allow students to schedule appointments for tutoring while others have unlimited one-on-one tutoring for each class. Some colleges have a tutoring center that operates on a first come, first served basis. Do not expect the professors to call you and tell you that your child is struggling. You will find out when the mid-term report card comes or when your child fails the semester. Don’t wait to ask questions. Here’s a tip—we live in the digital age which means that grades are now posted on-line, usually through the college website. Ask your admissions rep what the policy is on parental access. Some colleges do not allow parental access without student consent, so you’ll want to handle those situations appropriately.  

Money management can be the toughest. Do not send your child to school with a blank check or a credit card. Most banks now have a debit card system that allows you to control how much money is allotted and spent. Chances are, the first semester will be a very expensive one. Teach your children how to manage the money they have before you send them off to the land of pizza and beer…yes they do become two major food groups. Even if your child doesn’t drink, he/she will spend—so teach them to do it wisely. It may not be a bad idea to have them apply for on-campus jobs to make their own spending money. Many colleges now have their own debit system that works at on-campus facilities such as cafeterias, book stores, and laundry facilities. Check with your admissions rep for details. 

Note:There are many more facets of college life that parents need to be aware of. Next month’s article will discuss questions you need to ask and where to ask them.  SM

*You can reach Shelly Meyers at: smeyers@limestone.edu

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