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48 Things All Kids Need to Know Before College

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I’ve been in a parenting quandary lately.

My oldest is a senior in high school (I know – when the hell did that happen!

And as we are doing college prep and visiting campuses, it’s really hitting me that he will soon be on his own.


They just grow up so quickly — I look at this tall, lanky teen and remember when I would walk him into Kindergarten class.

And now we’re walking around college campuses!



Have you ever heard of the “940 Saturdays”?

Dr. Harley Rotbart coined the phrase — a parent has 940 Saturdays from the time their child is born until they turn 18 and head out the door for college, a job or to explore the world.


940 Saturdays …

And I only have 48 Saturdays left with my oldest.

I haven’t even counted how many I have with my youngest – just not ready for that one yet!

But I’m realizing now the game has changed — parenting will soon be something I have to do long-distance.


Now, I’m one of those parents who doesn’t look back and think “If only I…”

You just can’t live life that way.

I believe that all of the time you spend with your child goes into helping them become who they are today.

For example, if I chose to spend a whole bunch of Saturdays camping with him instead of watching him play basketball, he would be a totally different person today.

And I love the person he is today – one amazing kid!

So I don’t look back – but I do want to look forward and be a little more purposeful in what we do between now and college.  

Why?  Because #IAmProtective


Tips on Getting Teens Ready for College

Or as the kids would say, I’m SUPER over-protective but you’ll have to read my original post about being the Fun Police to learn more about that 😉

I give my kids lots of room to grow, make mistakes and try new things but I tend to try and cover all the possible ‘what if’ scenerios that life may throw at them.

And many of those “What if’s…” are running through my head as we are doing college planning —

What if you run out of your asthma meds?

What if you get sick and need to see a doctor?

What if you’re out with a friend who drinks too much?

My teenager laughs – “Mom, we have cell phones these days. I’ll call if there’s anything wrong.”

I’m sure he will but that’s of little comfort to me knowing that the schools he’s applying to are more than 8 hours away 🙁

What he doesn’t see is that all these questions aren’t just to prepare him but also to prepare me.

You see, there are some great places to learn about college planning, life insurance, money management

BUT there’s no place that teaches us how to be a long-distance parent.

And in my crazy Mom-brain, if I can impart any and all life skills and knowledge on him before he leaves, than I can feel that I’ve done my job to protect him when he’s 800 miles away.


Great List of What Kids Should Know Before College | Edventures with Kids


48 Things to Teach Your Child Before College

The week always flies by and as a senior, he’s either studying, working or attending school meetings and events. Saturdays have become our ‘get ready’ days.

If I’m going to protect him than I need a plan.

Not just any old plan, I need a make a HUGE-ass master list of all the possible scenarios that may happen so he’s ready!

And because it will help me feel more ready for him to be on his own too.

So, I’ve made one whopper of a list – it’s the “here’s everything I think you should know before you leave home” list – otherwise known in our house as 48 Saturdays.

I started asking my son and husband about items a few months ago.  My teen has asked to learn more cooking skills (something other than Ramen noodles) and he wants to know how to get his bills paid out of his checking account each month.  My husband has brought up car maintenance tasks.  And I know I need to re-teach him how to do laundry again (he was much better at it when he was younger).

What Kids Need to Know Before College

To grab his attention, I printed out the various items and discussion topics on colored paper and taped them to an old deck of cards we had (which by the way is only a deck of 48 since we’ve lost some of the cards so it worked out perfectly ;).

I’m sure your list will vary — each family will have their own priorities and tips to pass on to their children.   

For example, we have things like “Don’t let us think you’re dead!” and “Don’t ignore your sister” which means keep up with your family back home because we know our son can get really caught up in classwork and not see that days have passed.

Others are universal skills — like know where to find a doctor if you’re sick and when to use your ATM card.

Our goal is to choose a card and cover one item each week over the coming year.


 Staying Healthy

  • Difference between Tylenol & Motrin
  • Generic names for your prescription meds
  • Best over the counter cold meds
  • When to go to the Student Health Center
  • How to find a private doctor (insurance card)
  • What’s covered under your Student Health Fees?
  • Sign a HIPAA form for us
  • How to get a prescription refill at college


How to Keep from Starving

  • Master healthy microwave cooking
  • Learn how to shop healthy foods on a budget
  • Key items to have in your dorm room
  • How to store food
  • What if you miss dining hall hours?


Don’t Look like a Caveman

  • How to do laundry the RIGHT way
  • What to do about haircuts
  • Colleges don’t have free shampoo in the showers (what needs to be on your shopping list)
  • Packing clothes for the weather on campus


Tips for Kids before Going to College


Staying Safe

  • Review the Campus Security tips on college website
  • Headphones – when NOT to wear them
  • Going out with friends
  • Know who’s bringing/pouring your drinks
  • Storing your personal items and theft on campus
  • Who can you call for help?
  • Tips for walking at night on campus
  • What to do if you get locked out of your dorm


Car Maintenance

  • How to change a flat tire
  • How to change windshield wipers
  • AAA Card benefits
  • How to check & refill your fluids
  • When do you need your brakes checked?
  • What should you do if you have a fender bender?


Managing Money

  • When should you write a check
  • How to set up auto-pay for monthly bills
  • How to balance your checkbook
  • Tips about ATM fees
  • Using Debit vs. Credit for your credit card
  • Memorize your Social Security number (and protect it!)


Staying Organized

  • How to track important dates (like scholarships renewals)
  • Papers you need to keep filed/handy
  • Be sure to schedule back-ups of your phone/computer
  • What to do if you lose your phone


Social Stuff

  • Put family birthdays on your phone/calendar
  • Get FaceTime and Skype apps for your phone & computer
  • What to do about roommate issues
  • How to balance the college triad
  • Don’t let us think you’re DEAD!  (aka – if something major happens, call and let us know you’re ok)
  • Don’t ignore your sister
  • Dating do’s and don’ts (man, this could be it’s own list of 48!)


So there it is – my master plan 🙂

I broke it down into 8 categories and I’m sure we’ll be adding more to the list as other “What if…” scenerios enter my over-protective brain.

It’s not just me, right? Are you a protective parent too?  Always thinking about the future for your kids?

Head over and share your own #IamProtective story!

And let me know if you have any amazing tips or tricks for being the parent of a college student — I’m gonna need all the help I can get 😉