10 Ways to Help your College Student Survive and Thrive Their Freshman Year

College is a learning experience. You get more than just a classroom education when you enter those halls of higher learning. Not only are you living on your own for the first time, away from the watchful eye of your parents, you are responsible for so many things. As parents, we knew the time was coming, so we backed off slowly to allow room for him to grow and become more independent. I want to share some tips on how you can set your child up to survive and thrive as a college student. I recently read a report from the ACT that one in every four college students leaves before completing their sophomore year. Not only that, nearly half of all freshman drop out before obtaining a degree or completing their education at all. Setting your college kids up for success is going to help prevent your child from becoming one of those statistics. I've got 10 tips for how you can help your college student survive and thrive their freshman year.

amazon prime student, college textbooks, parenting

Helping your College Student Survive and Thrive Their Freshman Year

college, amazon prime student, parenting, textbooks

My son turned 18 about a month into his freshman year. Not only that, he moved 2500 miles away from home to go to school at a university in Texas {Sic 'em Bears!}. That's a lot of changes for a kid that is just leaving home. We did our best to prepare him and some things, he learned on his own. Of course, we are also all learning together as we go and I still have two more kids to launch so I'm considering this my chance to make a mental note for myself as much as it is to share my tips with all of you.

1. Start backing off early

Once our children entered into jr. high, I started letting them take the reigns a bit. If they had a problem with a missing assignment they needed to be the ones to instigate the talk with their teacher. If they were struggling with a particular concept, we had them start the conversation about their desire for help. I would often follow up with an e-mail after the kids talked to their teacher just to let the teacher know that our child also had the parental support at home to help them institute whatever plan they made together, but I tried to allow that first initial conversation be between the teacher and the student. This is an important skill for your child to learn {and one that may be a bit intimidating for your child} but it's an important skill they can take with them into college when their professors just might not be quite as invested in the success of their education.

2. Guide them in making adult decisions before they are adults

As I mentioned before, my son started his freshman year and then turned 18. It all happened so quickly for him. However, most kids are still enjoying their senior year as newly minted adults. Start allowing your kids the opportunity to make adult decisions while they are safely at home under your watchful eye, so that they have a little more confidence in themselves to make those adult decisions. This will also give you as parents, the confidence you need to see that they can handle making adult decisions {I hope!}. We talked a lot about credit cards and debt before our son turned 18.  Research together the benefits of one credit card over another and talk about how you make those payments when the bill comes. Let your child make their own doctor's appointments and when you can, let them set a few of the rules for themselves. We were very strict about cell phone and internet usage when our kids first got their cell phones {even coming up with a cell phone contract}, but by the time he was a senior, those limits on usage were generally set by him.

3. Create good study habits

This is one that took me a bit of time to figure out. I didn't really study in high school and didn't really know how to study once college started. It took me a few years with sub par grades to finally figure it out. Our son was able to get good grades through high school without trying too hard which left him trying to figure out how to study once he started college. You can't just sail by for too long in college, so creating good study habits early is important. If this is something you can help your child with before they leave the house, the better chance they have at adapting more easily to the increased course expectations.

4. Attend all of the orientations offered

When I was a college freshman a zillion years ago, I took part in one of the first college orientations our university had. It was offered just before the school year started and had me showing up a few days before all of the other campus co-ed's flocked to the dorms. My son's university offered a similar orientation in the middle of the summer. Both of us look back on those experiences and felt like those orientations were the best way to get us connected to the school and to other students early on. Encourage your child to take part in those orientations.

5. Get involved

There really does seem to be something for everyone when you start college. If you like puzzles, there is a club for that! It doesn't matter what your child gets involved in, simply encouraging them to get involved is key. Not only will they meet other people that have similar interests, they will learn new skills and feel more connected to their school, and that just may help them feel less homesick.

6. But not too involved!

It's easy to sign up for every club and organization that the school has to offer. Don't let your activities take priority over your classes and your grades. If you think that your child is stretching themselves too thin, talk with them about it to make sure they are prioritizing their time.

7. Get organized

Most college professors aren't going to give your student reminders when a paper is due. They will likely hand out a syllabus at the beginning of the year and expect your student to remember all of the important dates. Organizational skills come easily to some and not so easily to others. Again, this is a skill best learned in the safety of your home before they head off to college, so help encourage your student to take the reigns on this. You may have an app or a planner you use that works well for you. Share those with your child and let them come up with their own organizational solutions.

8. Stay on campus as much as possible

Since my son is out of state, he doesn't really have the option to come home very easily. However, those students that I know that are having the hardest time adjusting to college are usually the same ones that are coming home every weekend. Your child's college campus is their new home and they should stay on campus as much as they can to feel as connected as they can.

9. Ease the transition as much as possible

It's a big leap going from living at home under the same roof as your parents, to living in a dorm with hundreds of other young adults ready to set their own schedule and are responsible for their own decisions. One of the very first things our son did was sign up for Amazon Prime Student. Amazon Prime has been his lifeline. He lives on campus and there really isn't a great public transportation system and he doesn't have a car. If he runs out of deodorant or fills up his notebook with notes, he doesn't have the luxury to head out to the store to pick up replacements. We tried to think of everything when we packed his bags to leave, but he only had a carry on and a suitcase to stuff all of his possessions in. There was bound to be something he forgot! Amazon Prime Student has become his go to for shopping {free two-day shipping} and entertainment {thousands of movies and TV shows with Prime Video}.

When your child signs up for Amazon Prime Student, it's FREE for the first six months, courtesy of Sprint and your child can cancel any time if they don't feel like they are getting the benefit from it, but my guess is, with all the benefits of Prime Student, your child will be happy to pay the discounted rate of $49 annually after the free trial.  So what are the benefits of Amazon Prime Student? You get free game content every month allowing your student to take a break from the textbooks for a bit, unlimited listening to original audio series with Audible and unlimited reading on any device with Prime Reading where you will find current issues of magazines, unlimited access to thousands of books and more. Amazon even has a Textbooks Store so your student can avoid those crazy long lines and high prices at their college bookstore, not to mention a very flexible rental program.

10. Go to class

If there is any advice I give to kids I know heading off to college, it's this. My son heard it constantly before he left. Going to class is one of the keys to success for your student. There probably won't be anyone in their classes taking attendance and it doesn't take long to realize that you really aren't required to show up. Make sure your student realizes the importance to going to class.

Heading off to college is a major transition for your child. It's an exciting time full of lots of changes and there are a lot of opportunities for your child to grow and change and experience adulthood for the first time.  I hope these 10 tips helped you come up with some ways that you can support your child as they prepare to head off to college so that they can survive and thrive their freshman year. I would love to hear any tips you have too. Leave me a comment and let me know if I missed anything.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

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