Your child applied to college...check. Your child was accepted to the college of their choice....check. You've paid the deposit for freshman year...check. Now what?
First things first, congratulations mom and dad! You've reached one finish line and are about to embark on another exciting life journey. Hard to believe that just eighteen short years ago you were cradling that baby in your arms and soon they'll be headed off to college. Don't worry, the parenting doesn't end here.
This might sound ridiculous, but one of the first things I recommend you do is make hotel reservations for move-in day and parents' weekend. This much-overlooked task is known well by parents of upperclassmen from being burned freshman year. Reservations fill up quickly and even sell-out for both of these times - trust me, you'll be thanking me for this in a few months.
Check if there is a Facebook page for "Parents of University X." I'm on one for my daughter's university and I found it to be a tremendous resource and wealth of information freshman year. Even now, anytime I have a question, that's the first place I go. There will be freshman parents on the page and also those who have already walked your journey. They can tell you anything and everything you need to know specific to your school. Unfortunately, not all schools have these. I also recommend following, Parenting Your College Student, on Facebook. With almost 800 members, there are plenty of parents who can offer advice for almost any situation having to do with college.
Notify the schools you aren't choosing. While it is not required, it is certainly appreciated if your child contacts the other universities where they were accepted to let them know that they won't be taking the spot. This is especially appreciated if your child is giving up a spot on a wait list. A simple email to the admissions department is all that's needed.
Remind your child that acceptance to college doesn't mean it's time to 'quit' high school. Many universities have stipulations about maintaining grades and/or maintaining passing grades in all classes until graduation.
Register for college orientation and make hotel reservations for the same. There are usually several dates for orientation and they require registration for the student and number of people attending with the student. Most often, your child will sleep in the dorm and will have activities separate from you. Orientation is usually held over the summer when many people travel so if you want your pick of dates, register early.
Monitor emails and snail mail. When my daughter began applying to college, we set up an email account specifically to be used for this purpose and we both monitored the account for news and updates. Once accepted, it is important to continue to monitor this email account for information on deadlines and opening dates for many different important things. If you did not set up an email account specifically for this purpose, you/your child must monitor the account of the email address you provided during the admissions process. Many kids are not great about regularly checking their email. This becomes so important as you do not want to miss any important information. Most colleges communicate electronically these days, but it is also important to monitor snail mail for these same reasons.
The following are some important events you'll need to know the deadlines and/or opening dates for:
- Scholarship/financial aid applications deadline
- Housing deposit due date
- Housing contract due date
- Roommate/Dorm requests opening date (get these in as early as you can)
- Submission of final high school transcript
- Submission of test results for advanced placement classes and dual enrollment credit
- Scheduling placement exams (if your school requires these)
- Class registration/advisement
- Tuition payment/Housing payment
- Scheduling an appointment for dorm move-in day if your school requires this. (Freshman Move-In Day. What Every Parent Needs to Know)
- Registration for sorority/fraternity rush if your child plans to do this. At my daughter's school, sorority rush starts before school does and requires early check-in to the dorms. You will usually have to submit documentation that you are registered for rush to be allowed to check into the dorm early. Note that each school sets its own days for rush and it is not necessarily before school starts.
- Opening date for game and season ticket sales for parents wanting to attend sporting events (at certain schools, these will sell out quickly)
Schedule health exams. Your child will likely be required to submit a health physical and vaccination history. Make appointments for these early and get them done. Confirm what vaccinations your child's college requires and, if available, get your child a flu shot while you're at this visit. While you're already making appointments, schedule a dental exam, eye exam (if they wear glasses), and a visit with any other physician who needs to refill prescriptions before college. All the other parents will be sweating over getting these appointments because they wait too long.
Start shopping. Freshman year requires lots of new things. Don't go nuts buying everything because the rooms are small and you won't have space to bring it all. Organization is key as is knowing exactly what to buy. Most lists out there suggest far more than the student will ever need and not only will you waste money if you buy it all, but you'll have to cart it all back home after freshman year. Read, A Parent's No-Nonsense College Packing List.
Again, congratulations mom and dad! Enjoy this ride. Realize your child still needs you and will for some time to come.