Login Identity Protection Build Credit Pricing Employers Support Schools Parents PTAs PTOs and Education Foundations  Superintendents, Business Officers, and School Boards Resources About Us Contact Us Education Center Press Releases In the News FAQ
Resources > College Support > What Every Parent Should Know About College Life—A Comprehensive Guide

What Every Parent Should Know About College Life—A Comprehensive Guide

The moment your child heads off to college is filled with both excitement and worry for you and your child. They’re getting ready to face new challenges, and you’re preparing yourself for a big family change. In this guide, we’ll reveal what every parent should know about college life to make handling this process easier for both you and your child.

10 Things Every Parent Should Know About College

If you’re a first-time parent of a college student, the idea of your child living away from home may be frightening. However, college life is an opportunity for your child to gain independence and learn how to become a responsible young adult. The best part is that you can help them achieve this by learning what every parent should know about college life, including the following:

  1. Change is inevitable
  2. Budgeting is key
  3. Discussing expectations is crucial
  4. Boundaries should be respected
  5. Trusting your child is important
  6. Resources are available
  7. Showing care is welcome
  8. Making mistakes is normal
  9. Finding a job can benefit your child
  10. Becoming financially responsible is essential

Change Is Inevitable

Going off to college doesn’t only mean your child will spend more time away from home. College life requires students to be more independent, work hard for their goals, and interact with people from all over the country or world. This helps your child mature and eventually become a well-adjusted adult, so a change in their behavior should be expected.

As a parent of a college student, being aware of this beforehand will help you prepare yourself for these new challenges and accept them as a natural part of your child becoming independent.

Budgeting Is Key

With the staggering cost of college tuition and fees, it’s no surprise that paying for college is among the hardest financial challenges for most parents. In fact, the average cost of college, with books, supplies, and daily living college expenses, is estimated to be $36,436 per student per year. This is why having a college savings fund comes in handy.

Besides the money you’ve saved, you should look into financial aid and college loans to cover what’s outside the budget. You can explore the following options:

  1. Federal student aid—Apply for FAFSA as soon as possible to secure the funds or look into Direct PLUS Loans
  2. Scholarships—Check out scholarships offered by businesses, foundations, and other national and local organizations
  3. Private student loans—Use this option as the last resort as most lenders require a high credit score for eligibility

Discussing Expectations Is Crucial

Setting clear expectations will help keep you and your child on the same page when they go away to college. Make sure you talk to them about:

  • Grades they aim to have
  • College major they’re going to choose
  • Potential future career they’re interested in
  • Courses they need to take in college to pursue their desired career

These points are important to discuss and plan beforehand to help your child focus on long-term goals throughout their college years. Be ready to adjust your expectations and make compromises so your child feels heard and respected.

Boundaries Should Be Respected

Don’t assume your child will always be available to talk. College students have many responsibilities and are busy throughout most of the day. Besides studying and attending classes, they may be busy with exams, homework, friends, or other appointments. For this reason, it’s best to familiarize yourself with your child’s schedule and agree on the time of day or week you can call them.

Don’t pressure your child to visit home, either. Going off to college is a huge adjustment for the student as well, so they may need some time to get used to living on campus. Make sure they know they’re always welcome home, but show them you respect their time and boundaries by letting them come to you.

Trusting Your Child Is Important

College is the best chance for your child to use everything you’ve taught them in real life. Establishing trust is key—the more you show you believe your child is capable of making their own decisions, the more they’ll believe it themselves.

Have faith that you’ve raised them well enough to act responsibly and be able to solve problems without your help. College life can teach your child discipline and hard work, but the lessons will only stick if you let them think for themselves.

Resources Are Available

As scary as the transition from high school to college may be, the good news is that your child isn’t alone. Colleges are aware of this drastic change and provide numerous support resources to make the adjustment process smoother.

If your child runs into an issue, they can always contact a professor, an assistant, a counselor, or other students and get the help and support they need. You can rest assured they’ll never be without guidance, even if you’re not around.

Showing Care Is Welcome

Just because it’s advisable to give your child space during college years doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show them you care about them. While having more freedom and independence can greatly benefit your child, they might sometimes feel homesick. In such cases, sending them a care package is a great idea. When assembling the package, try to include the items that will make your child feel taken care of, such as:

  • Homemade snacks and cookies
  • Gift cards
  • Medicine and vitamins
  • Blankets
  • A personal note

Making Mistakes Is Normal

College life can be stressful, and mistakes are bound to happen. In fact, 49.3% of college students experience moderate levels of stress, and 31% claim exams and midterms are the leading causes.

That’s why you should avoid pressuring your child to do everything perfectly or get upset if they fail—failure is an integral part of learning. Instead of expressing disappointment, provide support and help them stay motivated to do better in the future.

Finding a Job Can Benefit Your Child

If your child is suddenly interested in getting a job while attending college, don’t be alarmed. This doesn’t have to mean they’re losing motivation for college—maybe they just need some extra cash. According to recent statistics, 43% of full-time college students work while attending college.

Finding a part-time job (5–10 hours a week) is a great way for students to earn money, as long as they’ve proven they can handle the responsibility without spoiling their grades. Besides, working while in college can help your child adjust to work life early on, which could benefit them once they finish college and start working full-time.

Becoming Financially Responsible Is Essential

Besides learning to live on their own and manage everyday chores, college life provides an opportunity for your child to become more financially responsible. This means they may learn how to manage their expenses and savings wisely, which will help them when they eventually obtain rental housing or financing for a vehicle on their own. To do so, young adults need a strong credit profile.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the importance of having a good credit score until it’s time to make a large purchase and their loan gets denied. That’s why providing your children with financial education is essential to help them secure a solid financial future. 

Luckily, you can help your child establish a good credit score early with the help of services like FreeKick. This platform offers parent-sponsored credit building features starting as early as the age of 13.

FreeKick—Credit Building and Identity Protection

FreeKick is an FDIC-insured deposit account provided by Austin Capital Bank that offers credit building and identity monitoring for your entire family. The parent-sponsored credit building is available for children aged 13 to 25, while identity monitoring covers up to two adult parents and six children aged 0 to 25.

Parent-Sponsored Credit Building and Credit Profile Monitoring

Establishing a good credit profile early will help your child obtain loans more easily in the future and get more favorable terms and interest rates, potentially saving them up to $200,000 throughout their lifetime. FreeKick’s automated parent-sponsored credit building service can help them achieve this by building a credit history for them. Here’s how the process works:

  1. Create an Account—Visit FreeKick.bank and select a plan that best fits your family’s needs and budget
  2. Set It and Forget It—Once the account is activated, your child’s credit will automatically start building over the next 12-month period
  3. Keep Growing—After the first 12 months pass, you can renew the account for another year and keep building your child’s financial future or close it and get your full deposit back

Identity Protection Services

Statistics show that a child’s identity is stolen every 30 seconds, so you should do everything in your power to protect your child from this serious crime.

College students, in particular, are among the most frequent victims of identity theft, and they express minimal concern over the matter. With a FreeKick account, you gain access to identity protection and monitoring features and services that protect 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

FreeKick Pricing

FreeKick has a suitable plan regardless of your budget, and deposits on both plans are FDIC-insured up to $250,000. Here are the available plans:

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

Help your child establish a strong credit profile for a solid financial future while protecting yourself and your family from identity theft—sign up for FreeKick today.