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Going to College: How to Prepare

Here are some important tips to make the transition to college a little easier.

When Depression Rears Its Ugly Head continued...

The problem for many parents, says Fassler, is that they might not have any idea their kid is having a problem. "The key is for parents to let their kids know that they can talk to them about any problems they may have. You should sit down and have an honest discussion about the challenges of college before they leave home."

Luckily there are a lot of resources for students, says Fabiano. Students should be encouraged to reach out not only to friends, but to professors, resident advisors, and counselors. Most colleges and universities will offer counseling; however, some may be understaffed, says Fassler. When necessary, consider off-campus mental health services; most schools will offer referrals.

The 'Freshman 15'

We've all heard that after pizza binges and midnight snacks, students inevitably gain about 15 pounds their first semester. While this isn't always the case -- some students even lose weight -- a lot of students adopt unhealthy eating habits and skip exercise altogether. In fact, Fabiano says most students don't get the recommended minimum amount of exercise -- about 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week. Students are paying the price; data from the ACHA survey showed that 30% of students are overweight.

Weight gain, however, might be a natural part of your kid's growth, says Kenzig. "It's also the first time they're responsible for their own food intake. Navigating all of the options, and choosing the healthiest ones, is a difficult road for some students to walk."

But weight gain isn't the only issue, as some students will develop eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. A lot of campuses do offer support groups and counseling for these types of problems, and if you suspect your student has a problem, encourage them to get help.

Tackling Finances

After leaving for college, Rothstein's son lost his wallet, something most of us experience at some point in our lives. One of the things in the CollegeCase, which she created along with Diane Brandt, is a place to keep photocopies of the contents of your wallet, something she recommends all students do.

The CollegeCase has numerous slots for important financial information, which helps put students in charge, says Rothstein.

Your kids are likely to first set up a checking account in the area. Have them look for a student account that has no fees or minimum balance requirements. They should learn about how to protect their accounts, check statements, balance their checkbooks, and keep copies of financial records before they go to school.

Let your kids know how important it is that they pay their bills on time. After all, skipping payments can cause problems with their credit rating, in addition to late fees, consequences most college students don't consider.

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