Did you know that 1 in 4 college freshman fail to return their sophomore year? Some say the number is even higher.
A lot of reasons have been given for the high dropout rate. It may be that college itself isn’t a good fit. But the fact is that many first year college students have difficulty living in a new and stressful environment.
There’s a big difference between what 18 year olds expect from college and what they get. They look forward to the freedom and luxury of being away from home for the first time. Instead, they find that…
- The dorms are crowded, noisy, and smell a like a gym locker room.
- Homework and studies take most of their time and living in a dorm is distracting.
- Every little comfort has to be paid for. Little things that helped them deal with stress are suddenly expensive or inaccessible. Little pleasures like a soda, snack food, fresh laundry, and a movie require cash and transportation.
Here are some thoughts and tips to make their lives and budgets easier.
Make a checklist of the items your child will need. The college and retail stores will help.
- The college itself will have a checklist. Read it over carefully. It should tell you what size sheets are needed, and make recommendations based on the amount and type of storage in the dorm room and whether your child will have a private bath.
- There are independent websites online that have good lists as well. But, each college living situation is different so check it against the list the college provides.
- Stores such as Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target have online lists with sale prices.
Buy the supplies at stores near the college.
You won’t have to lug the items yourself (no need to rent a truck). If you buy at the store, you can avoid shipping costs (more money saved).
Prepare your child for medical emergencies.
All it takes is the flu, a slip on an icy sidewalk, or a broken filling, and suddenly your child will have to see a medical professional in an unfamiliar town.
A little research now can save you money later. Your child should know where the nearest doctors, dentists, and hospitals are so that they know where to go if they need the services. Knowing which doctors are in network for your insurance will save you money in the long run.
Set up an account at a local bank.
Which bank has ATMs on campus? If your bank doesn’t have an ATM location convenient to campus, consider opening a bank account with one that does. Even if that bank is not convenient for you at home, you can always transfer money electronically between banks.
Life coaching for college freshman
You can be your child’s life coach by making sure your child knows what to really expect from college. In movies and on TV, dorm rooms are spacious and nice looking. The people you meet are exciting, and there’s plenty of time for socializing. All the studying is done in a 5 minute montage with a catchy song track.
In reality, a shared dorm room is about the size of a walk-in closet, most of the people living there are stressed and annoyed, and studying non-stop. The small amount of socializing offers a nice but needed break at the end of a long day or week.
Colleges do offer counseling. Make sure your child knows that. If you think your child is especially unrealistic about school, or is either shy, or too social for his or her own good, you might consider life coaching. If it makes the difference between dropping out and graduating, it could be worth the cost.
Sending your child to college is expensive. Preparing your child realistically will benefit your budget and your investment.