17 Items to Take Care of Before Your Student Leaves for College

Sending a teen to college is a significant moment in your family’s life, but it is also filled with forms, logistics, and plans. You may be thinking about what to buy for their dorm room (we have everything you need for the dorm here) or what to say to them as you leave, but we want to touch on a few practical matters you should consider before you drive away. Not all of these are relevant to all families, and many are personal choices, but here are a few things to consider. 

Here are the things to take care of before your teen leaves for college. (Twenty20 @tjs_bcangel)

What to do before your freshman leaves home for college

1. Documents to allow parents access to medical records.

Once our teens turn 18, their medical information is protected for their privacy (see HIPPA). In some families, this is fine. In other families, parents and teens agree that parents may need access to some or all records. Read about the documents you should consider signing here.

BTW, Mama Bear Legal Forms takes all of the work out of the process, and you will have peace of mind knowing that if there is a need, you can have a voice in your child’s medical care. Grown and Flown is able to offer our readers a 20% discount when you use the code GROWN&FLOWN as we are affiliates. 

2. A way to transfer money.

You may or may not need to give your student funds during the semester, but it may be an urgent situation when you do. Make sure that before they leave for college, you have a way to transfer money between accounts or through a service like Venmo. 

3. Continuing medical or psychological care.

Students with preexisting medical or psychological conditions needing ongoing care must arrange that before arriving on campus. Student health centers can help suggest local resources and clarify what services they make available. Contact them before the semester begins.

4. Find local urgent care or emergency room.

If the student health center is not 24 hours, and even if it is, you should find a local medical center that will accept your family’s health insurance and will not result in an enormous out-of-pocket bill. Please have your student store the Urgent Care and Emergency Room phone numbers and addresses in their contacts.

5. Insurance Cards.

Make sure they have their own health and dental insurance cards, with photos front and back, on their phone.

6. Social Security Number.

Let them memorize this number — they will need it.

7. Consider renter’s insurance.

This is a good moment for your teen to learn about insurance and compare policies and costs.

8. Eyes.

Get duplicates of your teen’s eyeglasses or contact prescriptions.

9. First Aid.

Create a small first aid kit with relevant medications and first-aid treatments.

10. Flying.

If flying, consider getting them a known traveler number to expedite four years of airport journeys.

11. Ride-sharing.

Ride-sharing gift card for “emergency” rides when needed. Our teens will swear up, and down that neither they nor their friends will drink and drive. But adolescent impulse control is far from perfect. Give them some ride-sharing funds to keep them safe. 

12. Medical Information.

Make sure your students are familiar with their medical history. Yes, they can call or text you at intake, but they will always need this information. Make sure they have all the details of any surgeries, allergies, or illnesses they have had.

13. Roommate’s Contact Details.

Share contact information with your teen’s roommate-to-be for use in an emergency.

14. Travel Needs.

Make sure they have a passport. Passports have taken a long time to get or renew for the last two years.

15. Prescriptions.

Consider how they will get their prescriptions, new ones or those preexisting, filled locally. Explore if there is a local 24-hour pharmacy. 

Discuss sharing grade information.

16. FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

means that you will not automatically have access to your student’s grades. For some families, this works; for others, parental access is important. Sign the appropriate documents that will enable you to see their grades. 

17. Budgeting

Talk about budgeting. This might be simple for freshmen living in the dorms, with just a tiny budget for extras like pizza and an occasional meal out. But for upperclassmen, this is a great chance to break down living expenses and show them how to plan their spending around rent, car, insurance, food, and entertainment. Hence, they get a realistic picture of their spending before the semester begins.

You Might Also Want to Read:

College Move-In Day: 12 Things That Will Save Your Life

Here Are the 33 Life Skills Your Kid Needs to Know to “Adult”

My Son Is Leaving For College: Please Don’t Say “It’ll Be Fine”

About Lisa Endlich Heffernan

Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan is the co-founder of Grown and Flown, the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author.
She started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and is co-author of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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