How To Prepare Your Teen For College

The acceptance letter is in. It’s official. Your teen is going to college in the very near future. When a child leaves home for the first time, it’s a life-changing event not just for the teen but for the entire family. Here are a few ways you can help them prepare, important things they should know, and some dorm room must-haves to prepare them for one of the biggest transitions of their lives. 


College is a wonderful experience for many young adults, but it can also be extremely expensive. Make sure your young adult understands how student loans, tuition, budgets, and credit cards work. College is incredibly expensive, and credit cards are notorious for targeting college kids, a combination that leaves many college graduates in deep financial debt after they leave school. 

Life skills

College is undoubtedly about academics, but it’s also about your teen being a young adult on their own for the first time. Take the time while they’re still at home to teach them those critical life skills they’ll need once they leave the nest. Help them figure out how to do their laundry correctly, navigate a grocery store or public transportation, make appointments, pay bills, cook simple meals, and do other basic grown-up tasks. 

How to manage their time

As high school students, their days were structured for them from when they awoke to when they went to bed for the most part. In college, there’s a lot more freedom to choose how a student spends their days. Help your teen create good time management skills, so they thrive with a little more freedom. 

Studying is a skill

Learning in college is a whole new ballgame compared to high school. Where your teen may have gotten As for simply going to class and doing the homework, the college will require much more than that to get an A. And studying is a skill that doesn’t always come naturally. Work with your teen to find which study method (flashcards, rewriting materials, watching videos) works best for them before sending them off. 

Mental health matters

College is a huge adjustment, and it’s hard for many kids to be away from home for the first time. Talk to your teen about what to do in the face of difficult emotions or tough situations and how to handle those. Let them know where they can go for help if they need it. 

Dorm Room Essentials

Most dorm rooms are pretty small, so keep that in mind when packing up your teen. Consult the school’s website to see what is and isn’t allowed, especially regarding small appliances and those trendy LED strip lights. Here are the absolute essentials for any college freshman. If you need some graduation gift ideas, check out our list of the perfect prez for your teen.

  • Twin XL bed sheets and comforter
  • Laundry bag
  • Laundry baskets + laundry detergent
  • Computer
  • Desk lamp
  • Clothes hangers
  • Stackable organizers
  • Bath towels
  • Shower caddy
  • Flip flops for the showers
  • Bathrobe or large bath sheet if you have to walk to the showers