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7 Quick Tips for Parents of New College Students

Practical ideas to help make the transition easier for your family.

by
Paula Bolyard

Bio

August 12, 2013 - 11:00 am
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Washington Statue, Fall 2009

August is here already! How did the time fly so quickly and those little toddlers on our knees suddenly turn into college students? Now that you’ve arrived at this life-changing moment, I wanted to offer a few practical tips to help make the transition easier for your family. I invite you to share your tips in the comments section. We are all in this together!

1. Amazon Prime Student

If you want to save money on textbooks and millions of other items, encourage your kids to sign up for Amazon Prime Student once they receive their college email address. The regular price for Amazon Prime is $79 per year, but for new students it’s FREE for the first six months and then half price after the intro period ($39/year). You get FREE 2-day shipping on virtually all products sold directly by Amazon and on many items sold by other vendors through Amazon. Sometimes even used products include Amazon Prime free 2-day shipping. In addition, members receive unlimited instant streaming of 40,000 movies & TV episodes and can borrow FREE Kindle e-books.

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All Comments   (10)
All Comments   (10)
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With 3 in college at one time, we use a combination of Amazon used books, Amazon rentals and Chegg to keep the textbook bill under a semblance of control. We also set up an Amazon sellers account to sell off the textbooks we did have to buy online and can get slightly better prices.

We don't use credit cards, but our kids have their own bank accounts (linked to ours for easy/immediate transfers) with debit cards. We taught them early on to make a budget, live by it, pay cash & use coupons for incidentals and to save for a rainy day. Even living in the dorms requires some weekly/monthly expenses.

Teach your kids the basics for crockpot or microwave meals. Show them how to shop for non-perishable staples and repackage for longer storage. Most universities have abbreviated cafeteria hours on the weekends and weekly Taco Bell/Pizza Hut is a bad and expensive habit to fall into. Invest in a good coffee maker - be a nice parent and send them good coffee in their care packages. It's much cheaper than the campus coffee bar. Also, send along a case of water bottles (or a nice refillable one). Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are so readily available that kids forget to drink sufficient water.

Have them sign up for a class/activity that will commit them to staying active. For my kids it was marching band/pep band. There are intramural leagues for everything from flag football to Frisbee golf. The gym is great, but getting together with a group as part of your routine is good for the mental health.

And be a great parent who takes the time to send cards and care packages. (USPS gives away boxes/bags for shipping with preset pricing for shipping everything that fits in it.) They don't have to be much, just a little something spreads a lot of cheer. The one thing the hubby and I do with our kids is send them a daily text. It's usually a cartoon or something inspirational or a pic of something from home - the pets, a sunrise or just something silly.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
All great advice!! Thanks for sharing!
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment

Get your kid their very own credit card if he doesn't already have one, rather than on eon your account. The limit can be set where you want it. Thus when she loses it two weeks before Christmas, it will not require you to cancel one of yours with the resulting havoc on your Christmas shopping.

#3 is really good advice. We sent the daughter off to a small private school in an even smaller little village in central Pennsylvania. We often found ourselves lodging 30 miles away when we didn't make reservations early enough -- often a full year out.


33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
As an alternative, you can make arrangements to link to their bank account. We have access to our sons' accounts and can transfer money to them when needed (they don't have access to ours). We've used it for both a monthly allowance and for unexpected expenses. I can make the transfers from my phone or computer 24-7.
33 weeks ago
33 weeks ago Link To Comment
I didn't read all of this story, but I will add that all parents read the "student manual" cover to cover. It is very likely there are free-speech issues, and sexual behavioral issues they need to be aware of...especialy your sons....that could land them in a heap of trouble if they don't comply. And, frankly, if any of them infringe on the First Amendment, get your kid into another school, or be prepared to hire a good lawyer.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Reading the student manual is excellent advice!! And in some cases, it will be very educational. Good 1st Amendment advice as well. I recommend http://www.campusreform.org/ to report free speech violations and other abuses on college campuses.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Advice: change your address, name , and social security number. Hide away! In this economy he will come back in four years with a pregnant Liberal girlfriend and they'll want to live in your basement apartment. RUN, RUN!!!

just kidding! :)
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Dorm mom? When was this written? There have been no such thing in nigh on 40 years. Not in the Ivy League and not at state schools. I can't speak to religious institutions, I suppose.

cheaptextbookrentals.com is THE way to go for textbooks.

And don't kid yourself-the only way your kid is going to church in college is at a college church where they have friends.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Both of our kids attend schools with dorm moms/parents. Hillsdale College is one of them, the other is a Bible college (which isn't unexpected). At Hillsdale even the sorority/fraternity houses have "house directors." Private schools have a lot more leeway to exert control over the atmosphere and behavior in the dorms.

FWIW, my son does go to a church that's not frequented by a lot of college students. He didn't really want Youth Group College Edition and looked for a church where the college kids are integrated into the rest of the church. I know other kids who do the same at various colleges around the country.
34 weeks ago
34 weeks ago Link To Comment
Re: Textbooks

Abebooks.com is great for used texts (though always check edition). It can also be good to check with professors as early as possible regarding texts (before previous semester ends is not unreasonable). Most core classes are already outlined and the professor will know well before it's posted at the bookstore what the text will be.

If you can't get the good prices by buying early, while it maybe be important to have some books, some can wait (professors are usually very forthcoming if you just ask). Since school starts about the same time for everyone, if you can float the material (often a copy will be on hold at the college library) for a week or two, most prices will drop precipitously after the semester officially starts.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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