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Resources > College Support > First Child Going to College? How To Handle the Transition

First Child Going to College? How To Handle the Transition

Sending your child to college for the first time can be difficult for both of you, especially if you don’t prepare in advance for this new stage in your lives. With your first child going to college, you may be wondering how to handle the transition. To make navigating the change easier for you and your child, this guide will provide useful tips, including advice on ID safety and financial preparedness.

What To Do When Your Kid Goes To College

Change can be unsettling, and feeling mixed emotions when your child heads off to college is okay. But while you’re sad to see them leave, you want to help them make the most of their college journey by offering them support and guidance. Here are some tips to help you better handle this stage:

  1. Plan for their absence in advance
  2. Accept your new role
  3. Plan college visits
  4. Encourage independence
  5. Apply for financial aid
  6. Start saving early
  7. Ensure their safety

Plan for Their Absence in Advance

Letting your child go can be especially difficult the first time around. However, you can still create a smooth transition by planning ahead and focusing on the positives. When your child leaves for college, you’ll have more time for yourself, which you can use to rediscover your interests and hobbies. Take up a new class, spend time with loved ones, or pursue a passion you’ve put on hold.

You can still have an active role in your child’s life when they move to college. Plan for visits and communication channels while they’re away so that you can keep in touch without imposing. Talk to your child about their preferences and expectations as well, and be flexible in letting them express their feelings about the upcoming transition.

Accept Your New Role

When your child goes to college, your role as a caretaker shifts to more of a life coach. Your child will no longer depend on you to prepare meals, clean after them, or make sure they stick to their routines. What you can do at this stage is offer advice and support. 

Your child will count on your guidance when making big decisions in college, such as which courses to take, what their major should be, or what future career they should strive for. Be careful not to appear controlling or impose your decisions on them. Instead, allow them the space they need to adjust to the new environment and learn to handle their freedom responsibly.

Plan College Visits

Visiting the college with your child before they decide on a school can give them a feel of college life and help them become more confident in the new environment. It’s also a chance for you to learn more about the college and its culture and see if it’s the best fit for your child’s needs. Schedule meetings with various offices and departments and ask any questions you have about housing, financial aid, or career services.

You can also explore the town outside the campus to see what shopping areas, food spots, and entertainment venues it offers and whether it aligns with your child’s lifestyle.

Encourage Independence

Chances are that this is the first time your child will experience living independently. It will be up to them to wake up in time, attend classes, eat healthy meals, and manage their day-to-day schedule without your input. If they don’t receive guidance beforehand, this freedom may overwhelm them, and their independence may end up working against them.

To boost their confidence and prepare them for independence, you can enroll them in pre-college activities like summer camps or jobs related to their academic area of interest to expose them to life away from home and enhance their academic readiness.

Encourage them to work on the skills they’ll need to fend for themselves, including:

  • Time management
  • Washing clothes and cleaning
  • Cooking and grocery shopping
  • Budgeting
  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution

Apply for Financial Aid

Sending your child to college comes with a financial burden. While some parents start saving for it early on, the rising cost of college may make it necessary to explore other options for financing your child’s education.

Thankfully, the federal government, state governments, and universities offer financial aid to lessen this burden for parents. To apply for aid, your child needs to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is used to determine whether they can qualify for federal loans such as:

  • Direct Subsidized Loans
  • Direct Unsubsidized Loans
  • Direct PLUS Loans
  • Direct Consolidation Loans

Some colleges use FAFSA to hand out other forms of financial aid, such as:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Work-study programs

Help your child access these funds by filling out the FAFSA together in good time. The earlier you apply, the better your chances of qualifying for more financial aid. You should also make sure to fill out the document as accurately as possible because underreporting parent income and assets may be penalized as FAFSA fraud.

Start Saving Early

Even if your child qualifies for aid, it may not be enough to cover all college expenses. That’s why you need to start saving for your child’s college education since their birth, or at least as early as elementary school.

One of the easier ways to save is through a 529 plan, a state-sponsored savings account that invests your contributions and allows them to grow over time. The account gives you a tax advantage by exempting you from federal and state tax for every withdrawal used for qualified educational expenses. Some states also offer tax deductions on the contributions.

Other advantages of saving for your child’s college education include:

  • Helping you afford a broader range of college options 
  • Lessening your financial burden when the child starts college
  • Allowing you to plan ahead by providing financial security in covering educational expenses

Ensure Their Safety

Every parent’s primary concern about their child, whether they’re with them or away, is their safety. Besides ensuring their physical safety, you should also encourage them to stay safe online and avoid the dangers of identity theft, which children are particularly vulnerable to. College students are among the prime targets of this crime because of their increased digital footprint, shared living quarters, and lack of awareness.

For peace of mind, consider signing your child up for a service like FreeKick, which offers comprehensive identity security. The platform provides round-the-clock identity monitoring, protection, and recovery services, helping you stay proactive about your child’s personal information security.

FreeKick—Comprehensive Identity Protection and Credit Building

Powered by Austin Capital Bank, FreeKick offers premium identity protection by monitoring the credit profiles and identities of your whole family, including up to two parents and six children aged 0 to 25. FreeKick also allows you to build credit for your children as young as 13 and up to 25 years old.

Identity Protection

With a child’s identity being stolen every 30 seconds, having robust identity protection has become a necessity. Luckily, FreeKick offers premium ID protection services for you and your adult and minor children to help reduce the risk of ID theft. When you sign up for FreeKick, your family will have access to the following features and services:

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 and Credit Profile Monitoring

FreeKick doesn’t stop at identity protection—it also helps create a strong credit history for your child, setting them up for a solid financial future from a young age. Having good credit can impact your child’s finances later on in a big way, ultimately saving them over $200,000 in their lifetime.

Building credit with FreeKick is straightforward:

  1. Create an Account—Go to FreeKick.bank and choose a plan that suits your needs and budget
  2. Set It and Forget It—From your account dashboard, activate the credit building feature, and your child’s credit will start automatically building over the next 12 months. Once your child attains the legal age (18 in most states), they only need to activate credit reporting, and FreeKick will start reporting their credit to the three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
  3. Keep Growing—After one year, you can either renew the account for another 12 months or close the account and get a full refund of your deposit

FreeKick Pricing

FreeKick offers two pricing plans tailored to meet your needs. Both plans are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. See the details in the table below:

FDIC-Insured DepositAnnual Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)
No deposit$149

Secure your child’s financial future with a strong credit history while safeguarding your family from identity theft— sign up for FreeKick today.