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Your child is going to college. After all the hard work of the last few years, competitive exams, applying for college has paid off. By now you’ve tapped other parents to get tips about everything from college courses, but what about the emotional, and even financial, side of leaving home? How Parents can help their kids, their jigar ka tukda, to get ready for college life? Let’s look at how you should prepare your child for college. The right preparation now can help them avoid little pitfalls and prevent meltdowns later.

A college is a place where children have the freedom to try a lot of things many they wouldn’t do at home. The boys and girls have the freedom, free to partying, dating, drinking, staying out late nights and academics. College is where everyone literally becomes an adult.

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College is a different world: Pressure on the child

It seems like time went so fast, it seems like yesterday when you held your child first and now your baby is ready to pursue their college dreams to leave the safety of the home. But have you prepared your child for college?

The media often portrays college students as a privileged, young, homogenous group. We have that half-cooked impression that College is all fun and party (Parents, everyone saying bus ek baar line pakad lo tu life settle hai) Is that an accurate reflection of what’s going on?

College students arrive on campus with a sense of achievement. Been that Sharmaji ka beta that everyone compares to as they have done well in school. Many have been toppers in their school life. But once they reach college they realize that there are many like them, in fact much better than them. They are like a Frog in a pond, who suddenly finds that the world is a big place.

Beyond focusing on academics, students must also learn to adjust to life on their own, starting a new social life, balancing school work with social lives, becoming financially independent. They have to deal with loneliness, frustration, anger, fear, or disappointment. Children who lack healthy coping skills may turn to food or drugs and alcohol to deal with their discomfort

A 2019 study conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights, found college students are more stressed than ever before due to academic expectations, financial concerns, making friends, political environment, and more.

Pressure on College Students a survey

Pressure on College Students a Survey

Child’s Support System

To ensure well-being and success, when dealing with any concern academic, personal or financial that they might face in their college life, children must have a strong support system. They should not feel that you have sent them into the unknown world all by themselves.

Parents have a role to play that extends beyond academics and asking do they know about birds and bees.

Conversation, conversation, conversation

The Key is the conversation.  Conversations play a critical role. While many of these conversations may be difficult, they are necessary in building coping skills, social connectedness, and motivation. You don’t want to be the Babuji of Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and also not a parent of Helicopter Eela. But some on whom the child can rely and say “Mere paas Maa hai”.

Helicopter Parents & Allowing Children to Choose

A helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. Helicopter parents are so named because, like helicopters, they “hover overhead”, overseeing every aspect of their child’s life constantly. The best way to describe helicopter parenting, also called cosseting, is “hyper-involvement in a child’s life.”

The rise of helicopter parenting is sometimes attributed to the increased competition due to academics.

But Susan Newman, Ph.D. writes in a Psychology Today article that Kids with controlling parents struggle with independence and dealing with failures, both a natural part of life. The helicoptered kids may have high levels of anxiety during college because their ability to solve problems without help from their parents is low.

Oddly, We parents need to know where to draw the line between being supportive and encouraging versus totally taking charge.

Let your child make decisions for themselves within reasonable and safe parameters. The type of extracurricular activities the child participates in, types of books the child reads, type of shows the child sees is a perfect example.

Why should you teach a child to take such decisions?

You’re teaching a child to stand on his own feet, telling them they are capable of charting the course of their own future. And it’s OK to make mistakes.

And the earlier you start, the better it is. The steps typically are in the 

  • Step 1: I do, you watch.
  • Step 2: I do, you help.
  • Step 3: You do, I help.
  • Step 4: You do, I watch

Offer guidance, not a quick fix. If your child is struggling with a normal issue, such as not finding people they like, hear them out (see above), because a sympathetic ear is helpful. But don’t leap to offer a fix, such as contacting a resident adviser on their behalf. 

How often to call and when

“Yes, I did have my breakfast, I did my laundry. Yes, I am studying. Yes Yes. OK. I love you. Bye.”

We’ve all heard that mother-to-child phone call while walking to class or on a bus or shopping mall. And the call always ends in “I love you, too.”

WhatsApp, FaceTime has made the world flat. You are now just a call away.

In college, living away from home is a sweet relief but also a constant battle with homesickness. And everyone has a different relationship with their parent

How often should a child call/text parent: Almost every day, twice or thrice a week, Once a week, Once a month?

It depends on the child and parent.

When I went to college and a hostel, way back in the 1990s, I realized how much we take things at home for granted, the food “Maa ke haath ka khana”, walking into the room after a day and there is no one with a glass of water asking how was the day. Or telling us reassuring words, “It’s ok”. And we didn’t have a mobile with us, phone calls were occasional and the way to connect was letters.

But When my daughter went to college, after 2015, we set a time that post-dinner around 8 pm she will call us. The length of the call depended on how much she wanted to talk, how much she had on the platter. If she was busy just a minute call was also fine “I am OK”  And she texted her to keep us updated about happenings.

Many students said that their relationships with their parents have improved since they moved to college, distance really does make the heart grow fonder! Many feel they understand their parents better because they have a better understanding of adulthood, responsibilities, and relationships.

Come up with a call frequency that is OK. Let the child decide the frequency. Schedule your calls and stick to them. 

No matter what, it always makes us feel better to talk to someone, even if sometimes that means bickering about college profs, food, or the roommate.

Help them to deal with Emergency Information

What to do if there is an emergency example the child fell or has a high fever? Whom to contact? 

Help them with a list of emergency numbers, from their emergency contacts to the phone number for the nearest pharmacy

You should have the contact number of their roommates, close friends, and warden of hostel or someone in charge. Nothing scares a parent more than calling a child multiple times and the child not picking up the call. We end up thinking the worst.

Help them Learn Life Skills

The child will be living away from the comfort of the house, often with roommates. They not only have to do things by themselves but also have to adjust to their roommate, who might seem like an alien.
They need to know

  • Basics of handling laundry
  • Efficiently navigating public transportation, book Uber, Ola
  • basic first aid: help child prepare a small medicine box with bandages, antacids, painkillers
  • basic cooking skills: Will come in handy if they don’t have a good mess

The Money Talk

This is also a good time to make sure that your student has access to a savings bank account if not already. Our article on what to do when a child turns 18.

Have a discussion. Make sure you’re both clear on things like:

  • How much is available for tuition? Will your student be responsible for finding additional loans and scholarships to cover future semesters?
  • Who will pay for room and board?
  • How will they manage food?
  • What emergency funds are available? What’s the agreement for dipping into these?
  • Will the child be getting a credit card?  When to use these credit cards and who will pay for them?
  • How much money is available for partying or hobbies?

Honest Talk about Drinking

 The media’s glamorous portrayal of alcohol encourages many children to believe that drinking is so much fun. They will be cool, popular, and attractive if they drink.

Although many children believe that they know about alcohol, but myths and misinformation abound.

For example, how much alcohol is in the drink does not depend on the amount of drink. Different types of beer, wine, or malt liquor have very different amounts of alcohol content. For example, many light beers have almost as much alcohol as regular beer – about 85% as much. In the United States, one “standard” drink (or one alcoholic drink equivalent) contains roughly 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in the following drinks. 1 Fluid ounce (oz) is equal to 29.5735296 milliliters (ml)

  • 12 ounces of regular beer, which is usually about 5% alcohol
  • 5 ounces of wine, which is typically about 12% alcohol
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits, which is about 40% alcohol
Alcohol content in Beer Wine

Alcohol content in Beer Wine

For example, many feel that alcohol tastes good. But many have said that when they drink it tastes like cough syrup. And people have to cultivate the taste for drinking.

The video given below shows the reaction of people when they have a drink for the first time.

Whether they want to drink or not, is a personal choice. If they drink they need to drink like anything else in life, responsibly, in moderation. They also need to learn when to say NO and how

What can your daughter say when she goes to a party and a friend offers her a beer? How many beers are ok?  Or what should your son do if his friends are passing around a bottle of wine? What should their response be if they are offered a ride home with an older friend who has been drinking? How to be aware that the drinks are spiked?

And if the child wants to avoid alcohol, you need to help your child figure out how.

Here are some important facts that your child should be aware of :

  • Alcohol slows down the body and mind. It slows reaction time, impairs coordination, vision, clear thinking, and judgment. We have seen the images of drunkards walking. Mujho yaar maaf karna mein nashe mein hoon
  • On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave a person’s system. Nothing can speed up this process, including drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”
  • People are bad at judging how seriously affected they are. Many think they can drive after drinking, but actually cannot. 
  • Drinking and Driving are a big NO-NO. Also letting a person who drank drive.
  • Beer and wine are not “safer” than distilled spirits (gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, etc.). A 12-ounce can of beer (about 5 percent alcohol), a 5-ounce glass of wine (about 12 percent alcohol), and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (40 percent alcohol) all contain the same amount of alcohol and have the same effects on the body and mind.
  • Anyone can develop a serious alcohol problem

Our article If you are caught driving after drinking, Driving Fine, Process explains Drunk Driving, how does one have to pay a fine, What if there is an accident, What is Alcohol, How do breath analyzers work? What is BAC or Alcohol limit across the world?

Honest talk about Relationships before Child goes to College

Girlfriends come and go.

But your time, your career, that entrance exam you’ve been wanting to crack is not going to come again. Everything else can wait, but your time will not – Chetan Bhagat

Be it Bollywood or novels, college love stories are always portrayed as fairy tales that always last for a lifetime. Unfortunately, this is not the case in real life. … College ka Pyaar seems so cute but comes with its own challenges.

Dating in college can be a wonderful experience, however, if you’re not one of the lucky ones, it can also sometimes be an emotionally trying experience, filled with ups and downs

College can be a time to date around, but sometimes it can lead to much, much more. t’s a good idea to keep in mind some general guidelines, to avoid having your relationships cause unnecessary stress or color your overall college experience in a negative light.

Don’t date just for the heck of it, to look cool.

Everyone wants to date the most beautiful girl or handsome hunk in the college.   Most of us are like Peter Parker, aka Spiderman, who wants to date Mary Jane Watson but who hangs out with those who are good-looking and play sports. Many wanted Aishwarya Rai as their wife without realizing that they are not Salman Khan or Abhishek Bacchan.

When you’re in college and around people your own age, it probably seems like dating is something that everyone does. It can be tempting to just go along with what everyone else is doing or to feel like you have to date because your friends are and you don’t want to be left behind. Make sure that when you do start dating, you’re in it for the right reasons

it can often be a good idea to hold off on getting into a relationship for the first month or so of college. If you get involved with someone right away, you may miss out on other opportunities on campus because you’ll be so wrapped up in the relationship.

You may be going into college with the expectation that you’re going to meet “the one”. While that does happen every once in a while, it can be dangerous for you to count on this being the case. During your first few months of college, you’ll probably be meeting new people all the time. Don’t get caught up thinking that you have to find your future significant other among the first people you encounter.

A lot of relationship mistakes can happen when you move too fast and try to rush into a relationship. A lot of college students have the expectation that going on a date with someone means that you’ll soon be in a committed relationship with them. While making mistakes is a part of life, and definitely a part of dating, you can minimize them by taking your time to allow your relationships to develop. If you move too fast, you’ll risk getting involved with someone you don’t know too much about, and things may devolve quickly. Many get so caught up in a new relationship that they lose sight of everything else, and in the meantime, you may let some amazing college experiences pass you by.

It’s important to maintain a good balance between dating or spending time with your significant other and catching up with your friends and family. When you begin dating in college, it can be easy to become so caught up in your new relationship that your stop spending time with your other friends and neglect some of the other important relationships in your life.

Try to ensure that, even with your dating life in full swing, you prioritize your classes to keep your grades up. Don’t forget the reason you’re in college is for academics. Unless you are Ambani you don’t have a job waiting for you in your father’s company. Your grades will decide your career.

Video of Chetan Bhagat on Girlfriends can wait, career can’t!

Girlfriends come and go. But your time, your career, that entrance exam you’ve been wanting to crack is not going to come again.

Talking about Sex before Child goes to College

Talking about sex with your kids may feel overwhelming, but it’s important to keep an open line of communication from an early age.

Hookup culture has created a lot of confusion for teens around what’s expected of them sexually.

Sex should be pleasurable, kind, and considerate — which means no ghosting or bragging to your friends.

It’s critical to explain the effects of peer pressure, alcohol, and drugs, and consent.  As Amitabh Bachchan in Pink says “No, means No”

Regardless of whether your children are sexually active or not, it’s important to speak with them about safer sex. Make sure he or she knows where to get safer sex supplies, birth control

Video on Sex Education: Netflix India

What happens when Desi parents talk to their kids about sex?

Video on Mistakes people make in College

Ranveer Allahbadia, known popularly as BeerBiceps, is an Indian YouTuber, entrepreneur, fitness coach, social media influencer, and internet personality from Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. His video on his Mistakes

Video on College: Expectation Vs Reality

Everyone dreams of a college life straight out of Karan Johar films, but the reality is actually way different.

Student Life : Bollywood VS Reality | Ashish Chanchlani

Video on EXPECTATIONS Vs REALITY – Indian Students In USA!

Hard life of Indian students in America, Expectations Vs Reality for students going Abroad for studies, Roommates issues, on campus jobs reality

Checklist for College

The image given below gives an overview of the

Checklist for College students

Join Bemoneyaware workshop on 17th June: Getting Child Ready. Enroll here.

Related Articles:

College is commonly referred to as “the best four years of your life,” and for good reason. It’s the first time that you’re away from home and have all of the freedom that comes with that independence, you have the chance to live with your friends for the first time. While dating can be an important part of college life, keep in mind that it should not encompass all of your life. Again, it