Preparing Mentally

Freedom to explore the possibilities of life. That's a big part of what college is all about. Issues of sex, sexuality, alcohol, drugs, independence, and finances will confront every student.

Is your child ready to handle these facts of life?  Are you ready to have your student deal with these issues? Take time to discuss some or all the issues listed in the following areas:

Student Life
Personal Safety
Alcohol and Other Drugs

Student Life
Getting a higher education means acquiring advanced knowledge and gaining additional skills. However, it's also about your student exploring new ideas and opportunities in life. Coping with these new ideas and opportunities is not always easy.

Help prepare your student to handle college life. You can:

*Discuss that the additional freedom offered by a college means increased responsibility for the student. It can take a lot of self-discipline to go to class every day when so many other opportunities abound.
*Encourage your student to be active in clubs, social organizations, and sports. This is his or her time to explore and experience new opportunities.
*Help your student come up with a financial plan to handle every-day expenses.
*Discuss the fact that robberies and rapes are more common at colleges than anyone would like to admit. Encourage your student to keep dorm rooms locked and to watch out for his or her personal safety.
*Remind your child that a roommate doesn't have to be a best friend or a perfect match. Learning to negotiate and compromise is important.
*Make sure that the school is aware of any learning disability that your student might have.
*Point out that, unfortunately, racism, bigotry, and cults can also be present at college. Learning to navigating these waters is yet another type of higher education.
*Make sure that your student has at least one smoke alarm in his or her room. A fire can happen anywhere, and an alarm is inexpensive protection.
*If your student stays in a dorm room and has valuable property (stereo, computer, electronic keyboard) you may want to make sure he or she has some type of renters' insurance to cover damages in case of fire or theft.


Personal Safety
Crime is a fact of life at colleges and universities around the United States. That should come as no surprise considering that 18 to 25 year-olds are the most crime-prone group in our country.

Almost 80 percent of all campus crime is considered "student-on-student." Unfortunately, to maintain an image of integrity and academics, many schools still prefer to deal with this student-on-student crime internally rather than bringing in the local police.

Parents and students shouldn't hesitate to question the crime statistics at their schools. This information can help keep your student from becoming a victim.

Basic Tips for College Students:

Tips for Students Living in Residence Halls:


Alcohol and Other Drugs
The opportunities presented by a higher education are endless. Many are wonderful. Some are dangerous. The abuse of alcohol and other drugs is often in the media spotlight, and for good reason.

According to the 1997 College Alcohol Survey conducted by Anderson and Gadaleto, college and university administrators estimate that the abuse of alcohol is involved with:

Discussing drug and alcohol use with your student can be difficult, especially when it's put in context with sexual behavior or violence. However, you can't afford NOT to have this conversation with your son or daughter. It can be the difference between life and death.

The following is an eight point outline for parents speaking with their college students about alcohol and other drugs. It is from the Syracuse University Substance Abuse Prevention and Health Enhancement Office.

  1. Set clear and realistic expectations regarding academic performance by your student.
  2. Stress to students that alcohol is toxic and excessive consumption can be fatal (binge drinking).
  3. Encourage students to intervene when classmates are in trouble with alcohol.
  4. Tell students to stand up for their right to a safe academic environment, one in which they are not affected by other students who abuse alcohol or other drugs.
  5. Learn about the alcohol scene on campus and talk to your student about it.
  6. Avoid passing on tales of drinking exploits from when you were their age.
  7. Encourage your student to volunteer in community work.
  8. Make it clear that underage alcohol consumption and alcohol-impaired driving are against the law.

Adapted from a publication from the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office