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Our Story Begins: School’s In! 10 Things Parents Of College Age Kids Need To Know!

Wooden blocks that spells the word College.  Isolated on white background.

Our Story Begins:
School’s In! 10 Things Parents Of College Age Kids Need To Know!

Exactly one week ago, I dropped my oldest daughter, Abbi, off at school. Not high-school, not a daily excursion where I see her again at the end of the day. I dropped her her off at college in another state, roughly 9 hours from our home. Emotional, sure, even a bit harrowing at times. Still, it could have been much harder. But getting up on Sunday morning, the home quieter by 1/5 and her room stark in its emptiness, wasn’t quite as difficult. Why? Because I did a lot of things to make me feel better about her leaving…and that involved giving myself an education.

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So if you’re doing this in the near future, are 10 things you need to know before you watch your child say “bye” and head into the secure entrance of the dorm…

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1. GET TO KNOW
FERPA

FERPA

No, it’s not some new Seinfeld holiday. FERPA stands for the Federal Educations Rights and Privacy Act. Your 18-year-old kid is an adult. As a result, even if you are footing the bills or paying off the loans, the college will not give you their grades or information about their education. I trust Abbi, but we did talk about it. She told me she’d sign the papers giving disclosure to me if I wanted. Have that conversation before you ever get to college.

Read more: 10 From GEM: The 10 Best Parenting Websites

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2. FIND OUT WHERE
THE HEALTH CENTER IS

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I actually checked the proximity to Abbi’s dorm and spoke with the head of the health department. They aren’t like a hospital emergency room, but they can handle most issues that come up, even broken bones. Along with that, it’s pretty cheap; at Abbi’s school, it’s $5 for prescriptions and a $5 co-pay (remember, HIPAA won’t allow them to  give you details for their healthcare).  That’s even cheaper than insurance. And speaking of insurance…

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3. CHECK THAT YOU’RE NOT
GETTING BILLED FOR INSURANCE

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No, it’s not an excuse to make more money by the universities, but they are required to make sure your kids are insured, so many automatically sign you up. That can be up to $1,500 for a year.  It’s pretty simple to waive the coverage. New healthcare laws allow kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until 26, so if you’re insured, might consider signing the waiver.

Read more: “..I Decided To Be Proactive”: Why Angelina Jolie And I Chose To Remove Our Own Breasts

4. FIND THE
SECURITY KIOSKS 

Creative Commons: Rennett Stowe

Creative Commons: Rennett Stowe

I walked the campus and found where all the little blue lights and phones were.  I was pretty satisfied that they were well covered.  Right now, it’s probably okay during Abbi’s classes.  But when she starts rehearsals for plays and when fall comes with the days growing shorter…I want her to know where they are and know what to do.

Read more: Our Story Begins: Tackling The Vaccination Consternation

5. KNOW THE
SECURITY POLICIES

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Kind of related to #4. The security department at the school has a policy that they will escort a student back to their dorm . . . all they have to do is call. They’ll even take them within a mile outside of campus…even escort them back to the dorm from work if they work within a mile outside campus.

Read more: The GEM Debate: Do You Have A Right NOT To Know?

6. DON’T GIVE YOUR KIDS
REALLY NICE THINGS

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We all want to give our kids the best and make things nice for them, give them what we don’t.  But the kid that pulls up in a convertible BMW carrying the Ralph Lauren messenger bag with a new 18″ McBook Pro and watching movies on their new iPad is just walking around with a target on their backs.  Even the security guys said they can’t police everything.  Laptops and iPads get stolen a lot.  If you’re sending electronics and other items, make sure they’re locked up in the dorms.

Read more: Better Not Bitter: Parenting After Divorce… Be A Hero, A She-ro Or A Zero 

7. KNOW THE AREA
AROUND THE CAMPUS

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I walked the entire campus and surrounding area when we first visited Abbi’s school which helped me see that she didn’t need a car the first year. There were pharmacies, grocery stores, good places to eat and a doctor’s office within just a few blocks so we both felt good about that decision.

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8. KNOW THE
SCHOOL’S RECORD

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I don’t mean their educational record I mean their record in dealing with campus incidents. In the spring session just before Abbi went to school, there was an incident involving one of the fraternities on campus. I won’t detail it all, but the university responded insanely quickly, censuring the fraternity and emailing all current and incoming students and their parents.  That made a big difference for me.  Rape on campus has been a problem for years.  This told me they are taking it seriously.

Read more: Our Story Begins: Dad’s Dirty Dozen.. Lessons For My College Bound Daughter

 

9. MEET WITH SOME
OF THE TEACHERS

Teacher at school in the classroom ready for work

I met some teachers, talked with professors, and even sought out people outside Abbi’s major, just to get a sense of how her department, the university, and everything is thought of campus-wide.  That gives you a less-than-biased description and takes you outside the opening-day love-fest.

Read more: Our Story Begins: Off To College.. My Kid Moves Out And We Move On

 

10. WE’RE ONLY IMMORTAL
FOR A LIMITED TIME

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Okay, it’s a lyric from the band Rush but it fits. Our kids are facing exactly what we did . . . and think the world revolves around them and they cannot get hurt.  Face it: we all wish we were still that way sometimes.  They’re going to mess up, fall, skin their knees and bruise their egos.  Don’t overreact when they call and tell you about these things. In the end…they’ll thank you for it and have an amazing college time.

Read more: Our Story Begins: Give Dads A Chance 

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So did you send a kid off to college? What lessons would you add for parents here?

 

Dave Manoucheri

Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California.  A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.

 

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