Going to College: How to Prepare
Here are some important tips to make the transition to college a little easier.
As senior year of high school comes to a close, so do the
parties and proms. Usually during the last weeks of summer, fear, anxiety, and
excitement set in about the year to come. If you're the proud parent of a
college-bound kid, you might be worried about the responsibilities and freedoms
they are about to take on. While there are steps you can take to help prepare
your kid for what's to come, you don't want to come off as overbearing or
controlling, do you?
One of the biggest challenges for parents is letting go when
their kids first leave home. "It's about walking that fine line between
helping your kids and at the same time letting them grow as adults," says
Melissa Kenzig, a certified health education expert and the director of the
health education program at Columbia University in New York.
"Parents often want to let go but are scared they haven't
prepared their kids well enough. In most cases, they haven't," says Susan
Rothstein, who is the co-founder of the Captio Corp. and the College Case, a
tool that helps students take control of and organize their lives.
The good news is you can pack more than clothing and school
supplies into the weeks leading up to freshman orientation. Start by taking an
organized approach to the information and topics that you need to cover before
they hug you good-bye and have them store important information in one easily
accessible place. From going over financial and medical information to talking
about sex and drugs, here's the lowdown on what to cover from several experts
who spoke to WebMD.
Let's Talk About Sex
"This idea that there is a sexual liberation that goes on
at college campuses is an imaginary one," says Patricia Fabiano, PhD, who
is the director of Prevention and Wellness Services at Western Washington
University in Bellingham. Unfortunately, she says, it's an idea that most
students and parents subscribe to.
According to Fabiano, about 28% of students surveyed in 2003 by
the American College Health Association (ACHA) say they've never had a sexual
partner. In addition, about 46% of the nearly 20,000 students surveyed said
they'd had only one sexual partner in the last year.
While the great majority of students don't have multiple sex
partners, a lot of students are going to have sexual relationships at college,
and for many it will be their first time.
"It's important to keep the lines of communication open,
especially during the first year of college," says Kenzig. Hopefully,
you've talked to your kids about safer sex; however, some students might not
want to involve their parents when it comes to sexual health issues, and you
might be more than willing to respect their privacy. That's why on-campus
resources are so important.
Part of the health program at Columbia is an online service
called Go Ask Alice!, where students and parents from all over the country --
including you -- can ask questions about anything from sex to drugs and
alcohol, relationships, and more.
Most schools offer health services that include birth control
and testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Students over 18
need to give written permission for the college to share any medical
information, or even notify parents when students are ill.