You may have tons of advice for your child as they head off to college, but it might be best to just keep it to yourself
So your baby’s headed off to college. And there are, oh, maybe 15,000 pieces of advice you want to give her before she goes. Don’t do it. You can keep quiet and still pass on all kinds of wisdom on how to stay healthy – physically, emotionally, even financially, thanks to experts at Case Western Reserve University. They’ve put together a list of do’s and don’ts to help freshmen get through college with their bodies, minds and wallets intact.
If you’re a parent, be careful, says Jes Sellers, a psychologist who treats students at CWRU, serves as director of counseling services there and helped compile the recommendations.
He says the pointers are much more likely to sink in if they come from someone else.
If you can, encourage one of your daughter’s older friends to deliver the suggestions, maybe with a note mentioning which ones she wishes she would have followed. Or ask your son’s favorite uncle to slip him the survival instructions as you load up the car.
If neither of those are possibilities, go ahead and offer the tips yourself. But skip the lecture.
Instead, enclose the list in that first package of homemade cookies. Or better yet, wrap it in a few $20 bills, Sellers says.
Here are tips from CRWU.
Ten tips to stay healthy – physically and mentally
1. Eat a balanced diet that includes all food groups, including fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t overload that cafeteria food tray. Think about portion size.
2. Drink eight glasses of water a day, and avoid soda pop and high-calorie fruit drinks. Soda pop and alcoholic drinks are empty calories.
3. Before a big exam, it’s better to sleep than to pull an “all-nighter.”
4. Schedule study times with the brightest students you know. Surround yourself with the best. You will learn from your peers.
5. Exercise. It will help relieve stress and keep you in shape. And it’s a great way to meet new friends.
6. Know the legal drinking age and the policies of your college. At parties, never accept an opened beverage. Open the beverage yourself. Don’t put yourself in a potentially dangerous situation; think of the possible consequences.
7. Maintain personal security. Lock your dorm room when you are not there, even when you are just in the shower. Do not walk alone at night. Know the number of the after-hours escort service if your campus has one.
8. College is an exercise for the mind and challenges you to think in new ways. Go to class and keep on top of assignments. Keep your values while learning more about the world around you.
9. If you are on medications, make sure you have those prescriptions filled at home before you leave for school, and keep copies of the prescriptions with you. If you have special needs (such as learning accommodations or mobility equipment), contact the office designated for student services as soon as you arrive on campus instead of waiting until you encounter a problem.
10. Make sure your cell phone – as well as your computer – are on the list to be notified in a campus emergency.
Nine ways to reduce stress and build resilience
1. Never hesitate to seek a tutor, mentor, therapist, spiritual adviser or someone older and wiser for help.
2. When you’re ready, volunteer to help others. Giving helps people move away from being too inwardly focused, and research suggests it gives perspective and helps reduce anxiety.
3. Loneliness and isolation feed stress. Join others in a dining hall conversation. Raise your hand in class. Meet friends at a coffee shop. Walk between classes with a new acquaintance. Join a group in the counseling center to learn about yourself and others.
4. Leave obsessive self-doubt at childhood’s gate. Strive to be OK with who you are. Learn to improve yourself without trying to be perfect.
5. Meaningful relationships bring joy, satisfaction, self-esteem, mutual respect and love, but they take determination to initiate and keep going.
6. Spiritual enrichment can improve your life; seek to learn about all religions and beliefs. Adopt beliefs that will bring you peace along life’s journey. Find the simple truths in life, even if you don’t believe in a god.
7. Seek meaning in all that happens in life even in the face of occasional chaos. What makes little sense in the present can make an incredible amount of sense in the future.
8. Employ the scientific method in the classroom and in your life. Dare to have a hypothesis or perspective; challenge and test it; accept it or change it as your life progresses. Stress can close a mind to ideas and delay needed change.
9. Take time to be by yourself. Learn how to be alone without being lonely.
Ten steps to stay financially healthy
1. Measure every purchase you make in terms of the time it takes to earn that money. Do you want a $4 latte from Starbucks? Maybe it’s not worth it if you consider that you would have to work close to an hour – after taxes – at a minimum-wage job to pay for it.
2. Before you buy anything with a credit card, ask yourself if it is worth three times the price. Because of interest, if you pay only the minimum amount due on your credit card every month, you will eventually pay the credit-card company about three times the original cost.
3. Never use the “cash advance” offers from your credit card. The fees, interest rate and terms are much worse than regular credit-card debt.
4. Pay your credit-card bill on time, even if it’s the minimum amount. If the payment is even one day late, your credit score can be damaged.
5. Save yourself from making costly mistakes by learning the basics of credit scores, credit-card debt, student debt and other personal financial-planning techniques. A great place to begin is with “The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous & Broke,” by Suze Orman.
6. Make use of all of the free and reduced-priced entertainment available to students. Meetings offer some great food and new friends. You might even discover some leadership skills you didn’t know you had. Also, take advantage of work-study jobs, as they are usually easier than other jobs and sometimes allow some studying time.
7. Research scholarships. You never know what you could be eligible for. Local ones are often available because many students don’t know about them. And try to buy used books directly from other students.
8. Take out only as many loans as you need for school. Don’t use them to finance a summer in Europe. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life struggling to pay back that vacation.
9. Understand your spending habits and what works best for you. For instance, if you are more likely to spend cash than use a credit card, don’t carry around extra cash.
10. Never co-sign a credit card application for a friend. As a co-signer, you’re equally responsible for any debt they incur.