What Parents Should Do Before Orientation

Aug 11, 2011

Parents often worry about their children struggling to transition from living at home to living on a college campus. However, there are plenty of things parents can do to help ensure that their child's experience of living on campus is an enjoyable, memorable and fruitful one.

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By Bobby Mann

The Freshman 15

Freshman students are notorious for gaining weight during their first year at university. On average, a student can gain as much as 10 to 15 pounds. This is attributed to a number of reasons, such as the ready availability of unhealthy food items and poor stress management. Parents can, however, teach their children healthy eating habits, which may help in deterring the temptation to snack on a bowl of ice cream or a bag of chips while cramming for an exam at two in the morning. Healthy eating habits should involve a balanced diet that includes vegetables, breads, meat and fruit.

Taking part in college sports is another effective way to beat the freshman 15 jinx. If your child kept an exercise schedule or participated in high school sports, then it's a great idea to encourage him to do the same while at college. Some possibilities may include track and field, football, soccer, tennis and basketball. If none of these options are appealing, a student can choose to hit the gym two or three times a week instead. In addition to standard exercise equipment, many university gyms now have full-size swimming pools and indoor tracks.

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Self-discipline is a huge issue for incoming freshman at college. For the first time they are the master and commander of their schedules. Some students don't know how to properly handle this freedom and very quickly a whole host of bad habits can leak into their daily routines. Some of these bad habits include not sleeping enough or sleeping at the wrong times, procrastinating their studies and not working on homework assignments.

Freshman who were especially active during high school and participated in clubs will likely carry over those interests to college and university. However, for students who were not as active, parents may want to stress the importance of instilling some structure to their weekly routines. This will help to occupy their minds and ease the transition into campus life while offering less opportunity to put off studying. Possible extracurricular activities may involve teams sports, academic organizations, honors societies and community service work.

Dollars and Sense

Many students have to borrow money to have the opportunity to go to college. Students are also tempted by the many banks that set up shop on campuses and entice students with seemingly low-interest rate credit cards. Very quickly, if a student isn't careful, he or she can take on debt that may snowball out of control. Sometimes the burden of a heavy debt can be felt for many years after graduation.

Ideally, parents should instill good spending and money management habits as early as possible, since it is likely that these habits will continue into adulthood. However, all is not lost for freshman who are just now learning about money management. The most fundamental things a parent can teach a child are how to properly create and follow a budget, avoid the credit card trap and stress the importance of paying bills on time.

Read more about the current stresses that many college students have to face.

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