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Resources > College Support > Advice for Parents of College Students—A Comprehensive Guide

Advice for Parents of College Students—A Comprehensive Guide

While sending your child off to college may be one of the proudest moments in your life, it’s also likely to change the relationship dynamic between you and your child. In this guide, we’ll provide practical advice for parents of college students that can help make the transition smoother. You’ll learn how to prepare your child emotionally and financially and make sure they’re safe while away from home.

Tips for Parents of University Students—What To Do Before They Leave for College

Once your child leaves home, it’s natural to wonder how they’re adjusting to college life. However, here’s what you can do in the months before your child leaves for college to get some peace of mind:

  1. Make a financial plan
  2. Talk about academic goals
  3. Help them prepare and move

Make a Financial Plan

Creating a financial plan before your child goes to college is key as college comes with numerous expenses. Once you’ve figured out how to cover tuition, you also need to consider other college costs like supplies, books, room, and board. Estimating how much money you’ll need to cover all expenses depends on:

  • Whether your child has a scholarship that covers these costs
  • Whether you were counting on a scholarship to cover part of the costs while saving for college

If you haven’t made a financial plan beforehand, you can calculate the estimated cost of all college expenses and set aside a certain amount each month. If your budget allows it, you can also only calculate the yearly expenses and set that aside.

If you need help paying for college costs, you can come to an agreement with your child to split the expenses. In this case, set clear financial expectations ahead of time so your child knows exactly who will pay for what. For example, you can pay for books and supplies, and they can be responsible for buying snacks and clothes. It’s also helpful to teach them how to set a monthly spending budget and stick to it so they can become more financially responsible.

Talk About Academic Goals

Both you and your child need to understand that academic challenges in college aren’t the same as those in high school. In fact, a recent survey showed that 49% of students felt unprepared for college academic challenges, and 17% were surprised at the amount of studying college requires.

You should discuss academic goals with your child and ask them what they hope to accomplish during their time in college. Help them get closer to achieving their goals by reminding them of the many studying resources offered on campus, like tutoring and writing centers, so they don’t feel discouraged if they begin struggling academically.

Help Them Prepare and Move

Moving away from home to attend college can be as stressful for your child as it may be for you, but detailed preparation can lessen the stress by providing a sense of security. Luckily, most colleges provide a packing list for students so they know exactly what to bring.

You can help your child pack and make sure they bring everything they need for the dorm or their off-campus apartment. Don’t stress if they forget something—let your child buy or come back for what they need, and use this opportunity to teach them responsibility.

On the move-in day, help your child transport boxes and unpack. This way, they’ll feel more supported while they adjust to the new environment, and you’ll get a chance to familiarize yourself with their living situation to make sure they have everything they need. 

A Helpful Guide to Parents of First-Year University Students

When your child first starts college, you’ll see them less often, and you may feel unsure how to parent a college student. Since your child will be away from home, it’s crucial to strike a balance between giving them space and providing them with support. Here are some tips to help you do it effectively:

  1. Expect change
  2. Trust them
  3. Give them space
  4. Be supportive
  5. Ensure their safety through identity protection

Expect Change

You should expect your child to change as they encounter new experiences and possibilities. This change is natural, so try to be open-minded and accept it as it comes. Still, if you’re worried about your child’s change in behavior, make sure you talk to them about your concerns.

Experiencing a change of pace in your household as well once your child leaves for college is inevitable. However, you can use this extra time on your hands to travel, take up a hobby, or sign up for a course. This can also help take your mind off worrying about your child and wanting to contact them more often than they’d like. 

Trust Them

One of the best pieces of advice for parents of college students is to trust your children. As challenging as this may be, try to believe that you’ve raised your child well enough for them to live independently and make responsible decisions. They can always call or text you for advice if there’s anything they can’t handle on their own. By showing trust, you’ll help your child feel more confident in their abilities and encourage them to develop independence faster.

Give Them Space

Calling or texting your child too frequently may make them feel pressured. You can ensure you’re supporting them without interfering with their obligations by:

  • Agreeing on a day or days you can call them
  • Sending simple check-in texts a few times a week
  • Sending a care package once in a while

During calls, ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” to give your child the opportunity to express their feelings about new experiences. Students have busy schedules, so don’t be alarmed if they don’t always answer your calls. To show your child you respect their boundaries, you should:

  1. Schedule your visits—If you want to pay your child a visit, let them know and make sure they agree so you don’t interfere with their academic life. Many colleges have a Family Weekend, which is a great chance to visit your child without disturbing their schedule
  2. Don’t pressure them to come home—Let your child experience college fully by not asking them to visit home every weekend. Still, make sure you show them they’re always welcome to visit if they want to

Be Supportive

Make sure your child feels supported in any situation. If something isn’t going well, provide them with consolation and advice, but don’t try to solve their issues—let them handle the problem themselves. If needed, refer your child to someone on campus who can help, like professors, academic advisors, or a counselor. Providing help and support in one way or another can improve your child’s emotional state and help them adjust to new challenges more easily.

Ensure Their Safety Through Identity Protection

Students are one of the primary targets of identity thieves, and most of them aren’t even aware of how vulnerable they are to this crime. A recent survey shows that over 64% of students express little to no concern over identity theft.

Attending college away from home often means your child may be using public Wi-Fi when studying or accessing personal files through shared computers in a campus library. If they’re not properly protected, your child can easily become a victim of a cyberattack, which can compromise their identity.

Luckily, a service like FreeKick that offers identity monitoring can help protect your child’s identity with its comprehensive security features designed for adults and minors.

FreeKick—Parent-Sponsored Identity Monitoring and Credit Profile Building

Created by Austin Capital Bank, FreeKick is an FDIC-insured deposit account that provides services that can help you protect your child’s identity while also improving their creditworthiness. The platform offers identity monitoring for up to two adult parents and six children between the ages of 0 to 25. It also helps you build credit for children between 13 and 25 years through parent-sponsored credit-building.

Identity Protection Services

Alarming statistics show that a child’s identity is stolen every 30 seconds, so keeping your child’s identity protected should be a priority. By registering for FreeKick, you gain access to the following identity monitoring features that safeguard the personal information of both adults and minors:

Services for Adult Children and ParentsServices for Minor Children
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Lost wallet protection
Court records monitoring
Change of address monitoring
Non-credit (Payday) loan monitoring
Free FICO® Score monthly
FICO® Score factors
Experian credit report monthly
Credit profile monitoring
SSN monitoring
Dark web monitoring for children’s personal information
Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration
Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

Parent-Sponsored Credit Building With FreeKick

Establishing a strong credit profile for children is a great way to teach them financial responsibility and help them achieve financial independence when they go to college. By building good credit at an early age, your child can save more than $200,000 throughout adulthood as they’ll be able to obtain loans more easily and get better loan terms. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Create an Account—Go to FreeKick.bank and choose a plan based on your needs and budget
  2. Set It and Forget It—When the account is set up, FreeKick automatically starts building your child’s credit over the next 12 months through a no-interest credit builder loan 
  3. Keep Growing—Once the initial 12-month period passes, you can terminate the account and get a full refund of your initial deposit or renew it and keep building your child’s credit profile

FreeKick Pricing

FreeKick has two plans to suit every family’s budget, and both deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Find the details in the table below:

FDIC-Insured Deposit AmountPlan Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)
No deposit$149/year

Build a strong credit profile for your child to ensure a solid financial future and protect your whole family from identity theft—sign up for FreeKick today.