Parents, are your graduates ready for adulthood?
Here’s a checklist of some of the things students should feel confident in handling before moving off to college.
- Shop for and prepare a few simple, healthy and budget-friendly meals (a useful skill even if you have a dining plan). For great tips on Dorm Room Cooking and recipes click here.
- Avoid food poisoning by storing food properly (leftover pizza should be reheated!)
- Know how to make a budget and stick to it, balance a checking account, and save money. Download our Teen Budget Challenge.
- Feel comfortable calling to make appointments or to handle issues (i.e. bank account, landlord, professor)
- Separate laundry, treat simple stains, fold and put away clothes, iron
- Keep my space neat and tidy
- Know how to sweep, vacuum and mop
- Use a fire extinguisher and a toilet plunger (not at the same time!)
- Set an alarm to wake up on time for class and work. We love these Clocky Alarm Clocks from Amazon that will definitely get your teen up and moving.
- Manage unstructured time wisely to stay on top of classwork and projects, job, activities and social life. We love this simple, yet sophisticated, planner by designer Emily Ley. Plus you can download printable lists for free at www.emilyley.com Set some goals with these Lara Casey Powersheets.
- Have the ability to parallel park (a super handy skill to have on campus)
- Know how to check tire pressure and add air, change a flat and call for roadside assistance. Click here for a course in Car 101.
- Know how to respond to police blue lights, show license and registration if you get pulled over
- Be aware of your surroundings, especially if walking on campus alone at night, who to call for help and in emergency situations
- Know how to treat basic First Aid needs
- Know what to do when tornados and severe weather warnings occur
- Be a good judge of character when it comes to making new friends
- Know that friends come and go but family is forever.
Be Ready for Anything
It is critical to be well-prepared in the event of severe weather, natural disaster or other
emergencies. Help your student pack a 72-hour emergency prep kit to keep in their dorm or
apartment. The Alabama Department of Public Health recommends these “Get 10”
essential items to include in any emergency kit.
- Water: At least one gallon per person per day for up to 3 days.
- Non-perishable food: ready-to-eat canned meat, fruit and veggies, soup, crackers, protein bars, etc.
- Manual can opener—if your canned goods don’t have pulltops.
- Prescription medicine and over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen, antacids, etc. Check expiration dates periodically.
- First Aid Kit: See the next page for what to include or buy a pre-made kit.
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Battery-powered radio with weather alert feature and extra batteries
- Extra change of clothes and shoes, blanket, rain gear
- Toiletry basics: soap, toilet paper, toothbrush, hand sanitizer, garbage bags, etc.
- Copies of important documents: driver license, photo ID, passport, social security card, etc.
Make sure the school has your student’s current contact information. In the event of severe weather or emergency, the school may notify students via text, voicemail or e-mail with instructions and updates.
Tip: Buy an extra backpack to store emergency items. It won’t take up much space and will be easy to grab when needed
Survivor Story: Tuscaloosa Tornado
Tuscaloosa residents and University of Alabama students will never forget April, 27, 2011, the day a violent EF-4 tornado ripped through the area, destroying businesses and homes.
64 people died, including six University of Alabama students.
Jatensia Calhoun, a 2014 graduate in Public Relations, recalls the day starting out like any other. But after multiple weather alerts and warnings, Jatensia waited out the storm with friends in the hallway of their dorm, planning to go to the mall once the storm passed. “Little did I know the mall would be heavily damaged in the storm,” she recalled.
The 15th street area, not far from the campus, was especially hard-hit. “I remember seeing businesses and apartment
buildings completely demolished,” she said.
Here are some important lessons students can take from Jatensia’s experience:
Be Prepared: “I felt like I was not prepared—I didn’t have a flashlight, batteries, non-perishable food or a weather radio. I’m thankful for my friends—we all came together and shared what we had. Keep money in your savings account and always be prepared for the worst.”
Keep Your Phone Charged: Phone and power lines were out of commission for days so many people were unreachable. “My cell phone died and I felt so disconnected from family and friends. I had no way of contacting them to find out if they were OK.”
Take Weather Alerts Seriously: Weather alerts usually pass without major incident, but you can’t predict that the next one won’t. “Do not take warnings lightly. If you have never experienced a natural disaster then you don’t know how scary it can be.”
Must-Haves for your Car Emergency Kit
Having roadside assistance is great, but it can give a false sense of security. Your teen should have an emergency kit in their trunk, and always make sure their phone is fully charged. Whether you buy a pre-packaged kit or create your own, make sure to include the following items—and show your teen how to use them!
- First-aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Reflective warning triangles
- Tire gauge
- Foam tire sealant
- Jumper cables
- Multipurpose Utility Tool
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Duct tape (Think bumper or mirror that’s fallen off)
- Tow strap/Tow rope
- Rain poncho
- Non-perishable snacks
- Drinking water
- Paper towels
- Warm blanket
For winter weather:
- Snow shovel
- Cat litter—to provide tire traction in ice
- Windshield Ice Scraper
First Aid Kit 101
Be prepared for any bump, bruise, cut or scrape with a well-stocked first aid kit. Keep it in an easy to find spot so you can grab it when needed. You can buy pre-assembled kits at most drug and grocery stores, or put together your own.
- Assorted bandages and gauze
- Antibiotic ointment
- Alcohol wipes
- Oral thermometer
- Pain reliever/fever reducer
- Roll bandage & medical tape
- Hot/cold pack
- Cotton balls
- Latex gloves
- Hydrocortisone cream
Tip: Parents be sure your teen knows to give written consent to release their medical records to you.
With the close quarters that come along with dorm living, catching colds and even the flu are inevitable. Take steps to stay as healthy as possible—eat a balanced diet, get plenty of rest and exercise—and keep the following info in mind for when the inevitable illness strikes so you can get back to normal quickly.
What should I do if I have a fever?
They make you feel miserable but mild fevers are usually not cause for alarm. A fever is the body’s response to infection. For most minor colds and bugs, taking Tylenol, staying hydrated and getting rest will help your body fight off the illness, and start feeling better soon.
Note: Be mindful of other symptoms that could indicate a more serious condition that needs medical attention.
- Stiff neck
- Severe headache
- Severe sore throat
- Fever that doesn’t respond to medication
When should I see a doctor?
If your symptoms aren’t improving after a couple days, or get worse, call your college’s student health center—most have a nurse line where you can describe your symptoms and ask questions. They can help you determine whether you need to be seen there or need to visit the Emergency Room.
Tip: Post emergency numbers—Student Health Center, Local Emergency Room, Urgent Care—where you can easily find them when you need them.
Good to Know:
- Carry your insurance card. Many providers will cover students on their parent’s policy through age 25.
- Consider having your medical records transferred to the campus health center, especially if you have a specific condition, such as asthma, diabetes or allergies, where it would be critical for health providers to know in the event you could not speak to tell them.
- Familiarize yourself with local urgent care and hospital locations in case of an after-hours emergency.
- Transfer prescriptions from your pharmacy at home to one near campus so you don’t have to worry about running out of your medication. Most pharmacies can easily handle the transfer after you provide them with the prescription info and phone number of your previous pharmacy (some even deliver!).
Debit or Credit: Which plastic is best for your teen?
College is a great time for teens to learn how to manage their
money responsibly, if they haven’t started already. Chances are most of their spending will come through the use of a little plastic card. But how do you know which is the best option for your teen? Check out the pros and cons of the different types of “plastic” to determine which is the right fit.
Pro and Con
- Uses money from a checking or savings account
- Easy to set up
- Most accounts are free
- Risk of overdrafting account and incurring fees
- Does not build credit history
- If stolen, there is more risk
- Spending is limited
- Online monitoring
- Authorized adults can load funds
- Employers can load wages
- Major branded cards can be used many places
- No credit check
- Fees are charged for activation, loading money, monthly maintenance, etc.
- Does not build credit history
Joint Credit Card
- Builds credit history for both parent and teen
- Parent and teen responsible for debt
- Credit limit set by savings account balance
- Builds credit history
- May have high APR
- May have monthly insurance fees
Authorized User Credit CARD
- Easy to set up
- Teen can piggyback on parents’ credit history
- Can set limit on teen’s card
- Parent solely responsible for debt
- Parents’ credit score at risk
Did you know? In Alabama, you must have a co-signer if you are under 19 years of age.
Sarah and Jay Thomason, parents of two college students and a 13-year-old
“We decided against giving our college-aged kids a credit card—we thought it might be dangerous! Instead, they each use a checking account with a debit card that is set up to where it cannot be overdrawn. We make deposits in their account
monthly. My daughter keeps tabs on her account by using an app on her phone. We like the convenience of debit cards so they aren’t running around with cash that could get lost or stolen.
Our 13-year-old gets a weekly allowance on a pre-paid debit card instead of cash so he can learn how to start managing his money.
Before they go off to school, we have our kids listen to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and discuss money
management with them.”
Good to Know: Check with your financial institution about setting up a checking account that does not allow overdrafts to avoid fees. However, beware that charges through the Internet, such as in-app purchases may not be covered by this overdraft protection.
Are you Rush Ready?
Thinking of ‘going Greek’? Here are some great reasons why students should consider joining Greek Life as part of their college experience:
Support. A built-in group to help ease the adjustment to college life that's commited to your academic success.
Resources. Scholastic and career resources to help students achieve their goals.
Leadership. Leadership skills are acquired through hands-on experience.
Encouragement. Get involved, stay involved and maximize your potential on campus.
Service. Opportunities to help others.
Legacy: A daughter, sister or granddaughter of an initiated member of a sorority.
Quota: The number of potential new members to which each chapter can offer bids.
Recommendation: A form completed by an alumna member of a sorority recommending a new member.
Silence: A period between the close of recruitment and the distribution of bids when there is no communication between potential and current sorority members.
Check out the download on our website for more sorority vocab, plus party tips, resume examples and recruitment tips.
Rush Fashion: Make a Statement
When it comes to Sorority Recruitment, you only have one chance to make a first impression. Alexia Henig of Splurge Boutique in Montgomery shares the following tips on how to dress to make your mark during Rush.
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Photography by Lauren Childs Photography
Ice Water/Tea Day
You will be walking A LOT on this day,so consider comfortable yet stylish shoes, like flats or wedges. Casual sun dresses, skirts and rompers are all appropriate for the first round of parties.
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Photography by Lauren Childs Photography
Most colleges now issue a recruitment tee for this day, but don’t get lazy with the rest of your look. Think fun, bright, printed shorts! A cute, comfortable wedge or flats would be perfect, too.
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Photography by Lauren Childs Photography
This is the most energetic day/night, when the sororities put on skits for you. A fun, flirty dress is key on this night. You want to stand out! A wedge shoe is a great option for this night.
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Photography by Lauren Childs Photography
This is the most serious day during rush. For dresses, think church/wedding/shower attire. Go for a very classy, even simple look. Skip the black and try a subtle color and addstatement jewelry or shoes
Parents are you ready?
College is a major transition for parents, too, especially if it’s the first child going off to
college—or the last. While preparing your child for their big adventure, it’s important to take some time to prepare yourself and avoid Helicopter Parenting (hovering too close).
Buddy Starling, dean of enrollment management at Troy University, offers some advice on how parents can foster independence and confidence in their college bound students while still staying connected.
• Don’t call the professor. Allow your student to handle classroom issues and concerns with their professors and instructors.
• Require your students to give written consent to the University to speak with you about billing, financial aid, housing and admissions (things you are paying for).
• Insist your student make the first attempt to resolve problems
or issues—if it remains unsolved, then get involved.
“We take our obligation of preparing students for life seriously. They ultimately have a higher level of confidence in dealing with life issues if they have actually dealt with some,” Starling said. “College is usually the first exposure they have had in dealing with many life issues away from their parents. It’s a good thing!”
“Successful college students have parents that are involved in their lives—at an appropriate distance. We do encourage parents to make a declaration of independence at the outset of the student’s college experience,” Starling said.
“When parents are clear in their expectations of their student’s college experience, the likelihood of fostering a more independent student is greater.”
—Buddy Starling, Dean of Enrollment Management, Troy University
Here’s some guidelines for setting expectations so both parent and student will be on the same page:
Grades: Parents should specifically state what they expect their student’s GPA to be at the end of the first semester. Realistically, this should be based on how the student performed in high school. “Be realistic. Even for the straight A student in high school, 4.0 grade point averages in college are rare.”
Safety & Well-Being: Clearly state your expectations concerning personal safety, behavior and discipline. “With college comes a social atmosphere that is typically unmatched. Balancing academic life with social life is a must.”
Finances: Work with your student to develop a budget for personal spending. “Acquiring healthy approaches to personal spending while in college will lead to the same financial health after college.”
Communication: Parents and students should establish a “new normal” for communication once the student is in school.
“Speaking every hour of the day is probably unhealthy for both parent and student.”
Social Life: Encourage your student to become involved in campus life as soon as possible. “Whether it’s an intramural team, a student ministry, fraternity or sorority, involvement outside the classroom exposes students to new friends and experiences. Happy students are productive students!”
Parents and Grades
The days of having grades mailed home at the end of the semester have long passed, which generates an obvious and reasonable question from parents:
“How can I know how my student is doing during the semester?”
Typically, universities do not grant parents access to grades but students use web-based learning systems (Troy University uses “Blackboard”) to access their grades with a unique log-in. “Parents should be aware of such systems and that their student can access a wealth of information regarding their classes,” Starling said.
Starling encourages parents to use weekend visits home as an opportunity to discuss and view grades together, especially at the end of the semester.
“Through effective communication with the student, no parent should ever be surprised about what their students grades look like,” he said.
Changing Family Dynamics
When your older child goes off to college, it’s a major transition for the entire
family, and everyone needs time to get used to the “new normal.” Cheri Love, mom of four teens, shares her family’s experience of when oldest daughter Rachel enrolled in Auburn University last year.
“When Rachel moved to college, it was sad setting the table for one less person. We missed the older teen perspective for our younger teens, and our kids missed their big sister. We also missed having that extra driver,” Cheri recalled.
However, with the oldest child away at school, Cheri and her husband had more time with their younger kids. “It also made our college child appreciate things like home-cooked meals, laundry and the company of a large family,” she said.
Cheri’s Advice for “Parenting” Your College Student
No Helicopter Parenting: “Pray for your child!” she said. “Continue to ‘parent’ your college child, but don’t ‘baby; them or try to do everything for them. They still need guidance and advice, but ultimately must take responsibility for themselves.”
Be Upfront About Expectations: Openly discuss what you expect regarding grades, behavior, etc. “Talk about the responsibility of their new freedoms,
especially when it comes to dating in college.
Tip: If you can’t talk face-to-face, e-mail is a great communication tool!
Talk About Money: “Give them a spending plan to live on, and guidelines for living within that spending plan.”
Safety First: “Remind them to be careful on/off campus, especially girls.”
The BlingSting pepper spray and Ahh!-Larm personal alarm from My Kids Attic in Montgomery
are great personal safety items, and super cute! $22/each
Finding ways to make your college child feel special and connected to the family when they come home also makes an impact. Cheri shared some of her family’s favorite ideas:
• If your student lives close enough, treat them to an occasional mid-week lunch to catch up
• Hide a small surprise gift in their car before they leave to go back to school
• Bake something special right before your college student comes home.
• Get to know your child’s college friends and have them over for dinner
Empty Nest? Embrace the Possibilities of a New Nest!
Children change your life, and typically the house you buy. Now that your kids are growing up (and hopefully moving out!), invest in a home that centers on you and having a social life
independent of your kid’s friends.
Consider these ideas for your “new nest”:
- Open floorplans and rich amenities
- A place roomy enough for short-term visitors
- Luxurious master suites
- Neighborhoods where neighbors are friends and porches are the favorite room
- Trade the playroom for a functional and fabulous office area
- Small yard with minimal maintenance
- Basements, garages and other spaces for hobbies and your toys
- A place to enjoy friends, family and nature
Jennifer Atkins, Vice President and Broker for The Waters New Home Community in Pike Road, Alabama and her team of Agents have a lot of experience working with parents in this
transition phase. The Waters’ unique “Traditional Neighborhood Design” allows for multiple lot sizes, home sizes, private streets for golf carts and a town center with a restaurant, fitness center, dentist, accountant, interior designer and more.