5 Smart Things To Tell Your Kids Before They Leave the Nest

5 Smart Things To Tell Your Kids Before They Leave the Nest

Help your child make a smooth transition to college life with these words of wisdom.


The day you witnessed your child take her first wobbly steps seem like just yesterday. Today, she’s heading to college. This period will be full of new experiences for her (and some serious adjustment for you), so you’ll want to send her off with solid strategies for managing on her own. Set aside time to talk about how learning to handle responsibility is just as important as doing well in school. Then impart these other pieces of must-share advice for college-bound kids.

1. Finances
A lesson on money matters is super important when your child’s about to leave the nest. Teach her to stay on top of her spending by setting a monthly budget and keeping track of her bank account to prevent overdrafts. Once she gets to school, credit card companies will have sign-up tables right on campus offering incentives to open an account. Explain the privileges and risks of having a charge card: It’s comforting for both of you to know she’s got one in her wallet in case of emergencies, but make sure she comprehends how fast interest charges can add up if she spends beyond her means. Another option is a credit or debit card with a preset monthly limit.

2. Meal Time
Food is fuel for the brain, so college kids need more than ramen noodles to do their best work. Send your freshman on her way equipped with a couple of quick-fix recipes she can whip up on a hot plate or microwave in her dorm. Whole grains like quinoa and farro are packed full of nutritients and a cinch to cook (just add hot water). She can jazz up her one-dish meal with a handful of Omega-3 packed walnuts and pomegranate seeds, chopped cucumber, crumbled feta cheese, mint and lemon-olive oil dressing.

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3. Handling Laundry
Once kids hit campus, they soon face the dirty truth: Laundry doesn’t do itself. Beyond sending them off with a sturdy bag or basket to transport their washables, make sure they know how to operate the machinery, sort items so they don’t wind up with white T-shirts that mysteriously turn pink, which laundry products are used for what and how often they should change their sheets and towels. Last but not least, remind them to zip zippers and empty pockets before the water starts to run.

4. Time Management
Once your child’s on her own, chances are, dinner conversations won’t include anyone asking “Did you do your homework?” For better or worse, you won’t be there to badger her to start writing that term paper. This newfound freedom requires lots of discipline to strike the right balance between social life and schoolwork, so talk about ways she might stay on top of her schedule. Electronic organizers and digital reminders are great for keeping deadlines from sneaking up (but an all-nighter or two is a general rite of passage for any college freshman!).

5. Emotional Support
College can be a pressure cooker with tons of schoolwork — plus friendships and romances that can quickly go from sweet to sour. Before she leaves for school, chat about how to keep things in perspective so her worries don’t snowball and overwhelm her. Also mention how every campus offers free services to help students cope, so she should make sure she knows how and when to use them.

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