How To Support Your Loved One Going Off To College

For many families, spring is the time when children are making big decisions about going off to college for the first time. 

It’s an exciting time for them and their family, but it can also be a difficult one. It can be stressful to make arrangements for someone you love to leave your home, take care of themselves, and study in a new place.

It can be hard to understand the stress your child is experiencing, and you may not know what to say or do. It’s also a difficult time for your child’s friends and other family members who are also going through similar changes.

It is important that you take time to prepare yourself, as it may be helpful in supporting your child during this transition.

Helping Them Prepare for a Happy Transition

There are many things you can do to help your child prepare for this new stage in their life and help them ease into the changes that they may experience.

The first thing is to try not to worry. You want your child to enjoy their time at college. Your child needs to feel safe and secure with you, but they will be able to handle the experience and thrive if you support them.

Next, it’s important that you encourage communication between your child, their friends, and other family members. It helps if everyone knows how they are feeling and what they need from others while they work through these big transitions.

The Importance of Encouragement

Often, your child’s friends will be helpful as they listen to your child and help with any problems that they might be facing. It is important to let them know how proud you are of their accomplishments but also encourages them to keep in touch with family and friends.

Communication is essential for your child to feel comfortable and able to face whatever challenges he or she is going through.

It’s important for them to know that the support of those around them is there, ready if necessary. It also helps when you put into words what you are feeling and how you would like things done differently if possible.

Prepare Your Loved One for Their Freshman Year

It is important that your child also feel prepared to face this new stage in their life. You can help greatly by introducing them to the challenges they might face, listening and communicating with them, and encouraging them to keep an open mind.

The best way of doing this is for you and your child to take time to discuss all of the aspects of college life so he or she can have a good idea of what to expect and how they might handle everything. 

This means asking questions about their classes, friends from high school, housing options, financial matters, campus safety issues, and much more.

Also, rate the importance of various interests like fun activities outside of class such as sporting events or concerts.

Here are some important issues that should be discussed:

Costs and Financial Aid

Discuss the cost of tuition and any fees, as well as help you may be able to get if you don’t qualify for free financial aid.

Discuss the importance of saving for college, especially if your child intends to go to a private university or college.

Also, let them know about the federal and state financial aid programs available for those who qualify for need-based aid. You’ll want to make sure your child is aware of these programs so they don’t miss out on anything they may qualify for.

Time Management 

Discuss how your loved ones will manage their time both in school and outside of class. This includes developing good work habits, studying, balancing assignments with class, extracurricular activities, and spending time with friends. 

Some kids can handle it all; most need help. If you expect that your loved one needs help staying focused and on track, first talk to them about how you can help them with their study habits and work schedule.


Discuss any safety precautions that need to be taken, such as walking alone at night, watching alcohol and drug use, avoiding unsafe situations, and keeping track of friends while they are out. 

Your child will also want to know how they can help a friend in danger.

Campus Support Resources


Discuss which campus resources you know about your child using if they run into problems. These likely include the counseling center, health services, and teaching assistants available in class. 

You may also have heard of the many activities on the campus, such as music groups or art clubs that your loved one might like to join.

Help Them Pack For College

Packing for college is always a tough thing to do, but you can help your child make it a little easier by offering to help them pick out things they need for school. 

What they need will differ depending on what they’re studying. For example, student nurses will need different things than someone studying English.

You can also offer to help your child pack up their room before they leave. In doing this, you might be able to save some money on your child’s dorm fees.

You might also decide on taking some of your loved one’s clothes along, so they have something to wear in the dorm room, and you save postage on the shipping of their clothing items. 

Here are a few things that you should make sure they don’t forget.

Clean Bedding

When your child is packing for college, one of the things you’ll want to pack for them is sheets and a blanket. 

Help them choose a few new sets of linens for their dorm bed.

A Laptop

If your child will be typing papers, working on school assignments, and doing their homework, then they should bring a laptop computer

This makes it a lot easier for them to type papers than having to sit at a desktop computer to do the work.

A Thermos Coffee Mug

When your loved one is heading off to college, they will want a thermos coffee mug to always have hot coffee available. They will definitely enjoy having a thermos of coffee every morning in college, especially in careers like nursing, where there will be early starts. A new coffee thermos makes a perfect gift for a student nurse going off to college for the first time.

Lots of Comfortable Shirts

Your child is probably going to need a lot of comfortable shirts while they are there in college. 

Without the right clothes, they won’t be able to focus on their studies and will likely give up. 

Help them pick out a few new shirts that are comfortable and easy to wash in case they are having trouble with that.

The Small Items For Their Dorm

They will want a cell phone and charger, alarm clock, alarm padlock, and floor mat.

These small items will help your loved one get through the first few days at college without running into any issues. They can use them to help make sure they don’t sleep in on the first day or to set up an alarm for their classes. 

Once they go off to college, it’s important that they respect their body and give themselves recovering time for new experiences and a good night’s sleep.

The Comfortable Shoes and Socks

Your child will probably be going barefoot in college. 

You should choose a pair of comfortable shoes that are easy to clean since the floors in dorms and hallways are sometimes dirty.

School Supplies

They are going to need some school supplies such as paper, pens, a ruler, a highlighter and a notebook. 

Bringing their own tools will help them to be more confident in the way they do their work. They’ll be able to feel more prepared each day when they go to school. Also, it will make it easier for them to take notes according to their lectures and courses.

When packing for college, your child should probably bring along some of the same types of items that were used at home (like laundry liquid and air fresheners). 

This has been shown to help them remember who they are and what is important to them. They may feel a little lost at first without these items from home.

Encourage Them To Study Smarter

One of the best things you can do as a parent of a child going off to college for the first time is to encourage them to study smart.  Bringing your child up to speed in their education is a great gift. 

Your encouragement will help them be more confident about their ability to succeed in college and get the most out of their experience. 

Work with them to make sure they remember to study ahead of time and that they are prepared for all their courses in college.

You might want to help them set up a study schedule by creating deadlines and goals, even if they are just theoretical at this point. 

This will help them get into the mindset of making a schedule and sticking to it, not just doing school when they feel like it.

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