Six Things to do Before Your Child Leaves for College
In a few weeks, I will pack up and head for my sophomore year of college. My experiences last year at school and this summer working at Gordon Insurance have opened my eyes to a few things that are sometimes overlooked when sending a child off to school.
Go shopping. Your child is essentially moving out and living on their own. Things like nail clippers, tissues, extension cords, scotch tape, or an umbrella can be overlooked, as they usually can be found at the back of a closet or drawer at home. Also, make sure they have extra socks, as many will get lost in the dorm laundry room. It is totally normal to feel as though you have way too much stuff the first time around. Your child will figure out what they do and don’t need over the course of the first semester.
Make sure your child has proper life insurance. For many families, sending a child to college means taking out loans. These loans come in two types: Federal and Private. If anything were to happen to a student who is still paying off a federal loan, all debt would disappear at death. However, this is not the case with a private loan. Most private loans require a co-signer, whether it is a parent or a spouse, who would take on the responsibility of paying. Be aware that sometimes banks will require an accelerated rate of payment or even demand to receive all of the money immediately. This is why adequate life insurance for your student is important. A good policy will help soften the blow of these payments.
Teach them the basics. In some ways, dorm life is like summer camp, but it can feel overwhelming (especially in the last weeks before move in day). Your 18 year old probably has basic life skills down, but it doesn’t hurt to go over a few things before they leave for a sense of security. Teach them how a bank account works and how to cook basic things like pasta or brownies. If they are going to school in the city, go over the public transportation system. Have them download Venmo, an app that allows you to transfer money to and from your friends (or your parents). Not many people keep cash on them at school, so it is very helpful.
Educate your child about identity theft. Although this may seem a little bit extreme, college students are easy targets for identity and credit card fraud as they are on their own for the first time and may not be as cautious. Make sure your child knows their social security number, but warn them to share it sparingly and to keep any physical documents where it is listen in a safe place. Also, when asked for personal information from the school, both you and your child should ask why the information is needed and how it will be used.
Get an “Away at School” discount on your auto insurance. Most companies will offer a discount on auto insurance while your child is away because they will not be using the car. In order to get this discount the school must be at least 100 miles away from where you live. This discount is not applicable if your child brings their car to school, but it is still important to call your insurance agency if they are bringing a car with them, as adjustments must be made to your policy.
Spend time together. In a few weeks, you will be in contact only by means of FaceTime or the occasional text. Plan around the whole family and do something fun that you can hold onto in the emotional weeks ahead. This is an exciting time! Enjoy it and good luck.
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