Summer is a good time to prepare college freshmen for life on their own.
Vickie Metzler, whose two daughters are college grads and son is in his second year, believes it’s important for students to make some financial sacrifice, even a small one. “Their investment is motivation for attending classes, getting help with tough courses and developing appropriate time management skills.”
The Lee’s Summit mother says summer is the time to give graduating seniors responsibility for themselves — including doing their own laundry. They should also manage all college communications, including completing forms, making calls and emailing officials. “They may struggle, but let that happen as you encourage and support them.”
Before leaving, they should also learn to be self-advocates, Metzler says. “They need to know that when they are struggling with courses, writing skills, living arrangements or other issues, the university most likely has resources.”
Kansas City North’s Cheryl Mikuls, who has a college senior and a freshman heading off this fall, has this advice for the college-bound:
Get involved. Try new things. The more activities and people you meet, the sooner you will feel at home.
Don’t skip classes. College costs a lot of money. Make the most of the investment. If parents are paying for college, they should have passwords to access grades.
Establish good study habits early.
Create a contract with your roommate the first week regarding expectations.
Use the meal plan. Eating out too often will drain finances quickly.
Have fun, but be cautious — especially girls. Watch out for one another.
Keep in touch, but don’t rely on parents to be the sole support. Build a network at school. It is tough for everyone! Don’t think you are the only one who is sad or homesick.
Trish Frevert, who proudly watched three sons graduate and move on to graduate school, says preparation begins long before students start packing. “We actually started prep for college in high school as far as being responsible for getting up, going to bed, studying, projects, etc.”
The summer before college, debit card accounts were opened, she said, and they discussed tracking expenditures, the amount of money that would be given monthly and how long it would have to last.
Although the Lee’s Summit mom encouraged her sons to keep their dorm rooms picked up, ultimately, she said, “That would be up for them to work out with their roommates.”
Sean Grube, director of residential life at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said summer should be used as a practice field for managing finances and time, and redrawing parent/child boundaries. Grube even suggests relaxing curfews. “That way if they make a mistake, there’s an opportunity to discuss it and find a better solution the next time.”
If he could give freshmen one piece of advice, it would be to get involved in clubs, sports or social groups. “Research shows that students who are involved on campus are more likely to be good students, and more likely to graduate on time.”
The summer between high school and college is a transition period, Grube says. Enjoy it. “It may be one of the last times everyone is together under the same roof for an extended period of time. Make the most of it!”