Parents’ Guide to College Prep
Knowing your student is prepared can help ease your anxiety as they make the move away. Use these tips to help ensure they’re ready for daily life on their own.
Plan for medical emergencies.
You are not automatically granted access to your student’s health information or permitted to make medical decisions if he or she is 18 or older and becomes incapacitated, even if you carry the insurance and pay the bills. You may want to have your student properly complete, sign and have notarized official power of attorney and medical information release forms that you can carry on your phone or otherwise easily access in case of emergency.
In addition, your student should understand when an illness or injury requires self-treatment, a visit to the health center or a specialist, or a trip to the emergency room.
Prepare for other medical events.
Check with your student’s college to see if you’re being charged for health insurance and if you can waive it if your plan already covers your child.
You may find your student needs vaccinations or boosters, as well as a regular physical, dental cleaning or vision check before college. Encourage your student to schedule appointments, complete the appropriate paperwork and fill or refill a prescription for these visits so it’s not all new when he or she is far from home. In addition, provide your child with copies of the pertinent medical, prescription, vision and dental insurance cards.
With your student, put together a basic medical kit for the dorm room with pain reliever, bandages and other health items you normally keep at home.
Set up a financial system.
If you will be helping your student financially, ensure you can easily transfer money to him or her, perhaps through a student checking account that also carries your name. Check for financial institutions that have a branch or no-fee ATMs on or near campus.
Adding your student to a credit card account also makes financial transactions simpler. Because a college student’s card could be easily lost or stolen, you may want to set up a new card or account number to avoid problems with your own purchases.
Attend an orientation.
Besides actually signing up for an orientation date, your student may need to take online placement tests and training or safety courses before attending. In addition, if he or she will be signing up for classes at orientation, suggest that your student look through the course catalog for entry-level required classes and come up with a preferred and alternate schedule. If your student didn’t attend a summer orientation, look for opportunities with the start of classes.
Plan the big move.
Decide if it makes sense to purchase items now or wait until you get on campus, depending on planned transportation and availability. Some department store chains allow you to select items at one location or online and pick up at a location close to campus. In general, understand that dorm rooms are small, students will probably only need half or less of their original packing list and they can usually pick up or order items they forgot later.
Make needed reservations.
If you plan to move-in day or parents weekend with your student, check hotel and transportation availability early. Especially in smaller college communities, nearby rooms and rental vehicles may be booked quickly. If your student will fly home and back to school during high-traffic times like Thanksgiving or Christmas, you may also want to book those flights early.
Get the car college-ready.
If your student will be taking a car to campus, help him or her set up any appointments for needed maintenance or repairs over the summer. Discuss an appropriate schedule and possible locations for service they may need close to campus. You might consider a AAA membership with towing services if the student will be driving far, and you may also need to let your car insurance provider know. Finally make sure your student knows what to do in case of a car accident, such as whom to call and what to say to another party.
If your student won’t be taking a car to campus but normally drives under your car insurance policy, contact your provider about possible savings and reduced coverage.
Take care of any additional paperwork.
If your student may need an updated passport or their Social Security card or birth certificate, help him or her locate those and discuss how important it is to keep these documents safe. If your child relies on his or her cell phone contact list for phone numbers for you and other important contacts, suggest a printed or electronic list in case the phone is broken, lost or stolen.
If your student will have valuables on campus, consider dorm insurance or check your homeowner’s policy for coverage.