Standardized testing is over. The final bar of Pomp and Circumstance has faded into a wonderful memory and the high school graduation cake has been served. But even if a bumper sticker with a university logo is already slapped on your SUV, college prep is far from over for parents of upcoming freshman. There's so much to do and plenty of unexpected attitudes and circumstances to trip you up along the way. From food to fashion, friends and farewells, parents must be on their toes to prep their kids and themselves for that highly anticipated dorm drop-off.
The Food and Friend Frenzy
Many college-bound teens wax nostalgic when it comes to food and high school friends. Their mission is to hang out with every person they even remotely liked AND eat every favorite food before they're unable to access it. If they can eat their favorite foods with friends, that's even better. Note: Your chances of being included on these food journeys increase if you agree to pick up the tab.
Tip: If you're on the same summer meal plan, pencil in some extra treadmill time or you just might pack on the freshman 15 before your freshman.
Dorm Decorating Obsession
College kids and their parents are a target population. Literally. Designers and marketing teams have made it easy to get excited about higher education. From beautiful bedding to colorful shower caddies, students and parents want to purchase everything.
Tip: Examine dorm rules for furniture, lighting and appliance restrictions before shopping.
The Mood Swings: Yours and Theirs
From surly to sad, your teen may be experiencing a myriad of emotions. Separation is difficult, and the, "You can't tell me what to do -- I'm going to college" attitude is normal. Still, keep your eyes and lines of communication open.
Tip: Expect some tension, but be prepared to deal with emotional issues as they arise. This summer is the time for teaching moments and prepping your teen for the real world (or for being as close to the real world as they've been thus far).
After stockpiling dorm decorations and toiletries, it hits you -- move-in day is going to require a fleet of minivans unless you get creative. Short of trying to bribe the UPS guy, you've got some planning to do.
Tip: A vacuum and some Space Bags will allow you to shrink comforters, down jackets and fluffy bath towels into a hard skinny square of plastic. Tuck it the trunk along with wheeled duffle bags and you'll be the envy of every parent who rented a U-Haul.
Summer flies when you're a college-bound family. Enjoy every possible second!
Follow Nancy Berk, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/nancyberk