Checklist for Parents of Incoming Freshmen?

Experienced college parents: What should go on the parents’ to-do list after the kid has finally committed to a college?
Things that can be taken care of now, or in the summer before classes start, etc.

Banking/Credit Card: research your banking/atm options. Also, we’ve found it useful for our D to have her own credit card at school, so you might want to look into that, too.

Health insurance: check to see if your current insurance will cover your child while he/she is away at school. If so, you are probably able to waive the school’s health insurance.

Moving: figure out the logistics of getting your child to school. If you’re flying, you might want to check into something like Bed Bath and Beyond’s program where you pick out your things locally but pick up your items in the store closest to the child’s school.

AP credits: if your child’s school accepts AP credits, make sure you send them to the school in a timely manner.

On the health note, gather any vaccination records that may be required, get booster shots if needed.

We added S to one of our credit cards after first semester and wish we had done it sooner. We find it easier for handling things that we agree to pay for. Most notably books since the exact cost isn’t known in advance.

Figure out how he/she’s getting to college, and book the reservations for flights and hotels if necessary.

Depending on the “dominance” of the college in the town, you may need to reserve a hotel for move-in or parents’ weekend IMMEDIATELY

Take a trip together, and don’t think about college at all

Go to the dentist

Resist the urge to buy dorm items like mirrors, irons, etc…

Reserve for move-in

Downsize what is being taken. You don’t need that much. Seriously.

Re: banking: It looks like my D’s school will have a bank fair on campus on move-in day. We use a credit union at home, but there are no walkable CUs near campus. The bank we researched has a no fee student account that requires a school ID. Since she will get that on move-in day, it will be a timesaver for us to go see the bank at the on-campus fair.

  1. Figure out what it takes to get the health insurance waived. Schools don't make it easy. I had to buy evacuation insurance ala carte in order to comply.
  2. Figure out the detailed financial plan. For D1's school we found a program that allowed up to basically prepay senior year privatecollege529.com. For D2's school, the school itself had a prepayment plan. Later I found out that D1's school also had a prepayment plan directly with the school, but didn't know to ask. You basically earn tax-free tuition inflation on cash. Colorado has a stable value fund in their 529 with a great interest rate on cash.
  3. Consider tuition insurance.
  4. Plan and book move out trip.
  5. We found a local bank that refunds ATM charges. Makes it easy for us to deposit money.
  6. Get a credit card that you don't intend to use to make student an additional user. Reason for separate card is because student will invariably lose said card. If it's not separate, you won't have a card to use either.

Everything. Just everything.

Figure out orientation. Look up dates on calendar for move-in, parent weekend, Thanksgiving, winter break, spring break, move-out, etc…

For our banking my kids account is connected to mine so I can easily, online, transfer money from my account to theirs.

Re: Banking-- I also use the linked checking account which I highly recommend-- when my daughter started (she’s about to graduate) I was very concerned that the bank had a branch near campus (ours happens to). I do not believe she has EVER darkened its door. And I think I could count the number of ATM withdrawals on one hand (in four years). “kids these days” tend to use their debit card for everything from a starbucks coffee to a bagel to a movie tickets. And since they can get cash back, there’s really not much reason for an ATM (and their charges) in the first place.

I also highly recommend a credit card for kiddo on your account (and in our case it’s a different number so if kiddo loses it or has fraud etc, it doesn’t affect my card)

Make reservations for your hotels for move-in weekend, parents weekend, etc. Those rooms fill FAST.

We made a sort of master list of things to bring, then spent the summer collecting things like rugs and quilts at yard sales, relatives giveaways, etc. We got the dorm fridge on Craigslist, for example. We let D buy a few fun things at Ikea but most of what she took with her we already had. I agree, don’t rush out and buy a lot of stuff. When the roommate is assigned (about 1 month before move-in for my D) they can work out who will bring which of the larger items.

Your kid’s college will likely give them a very specific set of shots needed. Wait to get that before you go to the doctor.

Debit bank card that has an ATM and branch bank somewhere near campus. We picked Chase. Get it started, you keep account info too to make deposits from hometown if need be.

Not a parent but can chime in…

  1. Bank account. Very important.
  2. Health insurance
  3. clothes
  4. visit if possible

Get one of those dorm supply lists. I’m sure Bed Bath & Beyond (aka the bane of my existence) has its list posted year round. Buy no more than half of that stuff – and maybe a third if your student is a guy. All that stuff actually has to fit in the car in August, so if your “dorm mountain” requires climbing gear to scale, you may have a problem. Also, remember that they have stores where your kid is moving;** you don’t have to buy it all before you go. And, from experience, I will tell you the most kids pare down what they haul back and forth between first year and second year.

** NOTE: Advice may not apply in Williamstown, Massachusetts, or Grinnell, Iowa. There, I might advise stocking up in advance and perhaps even laying in stores of hardtack and pemmican.

Printed several favorite family photos for display on a corkboard – student’s choice.
Practiced going to doctor and dentist ALONE for final vaccinations, etc.
Purchased rain gear appropriate for getting to/from class in a deluge/snow.
Gathered a toolkit of random desk items, cold medicine, sewing kit, 3m hangers, postage stamps, etc.
We opted for the buy ahead plan for dorm items. Target and the like can be a nightmare in college towns at move-in time!

From one who encounters students on a daily basis- please, please, make sure your students have a copy of not only the medical insurance card, but the prescription card too. They will need them- and telling the doctor’s office or pharmacy that " I think it’s Blue Cross"- is not enough. And don’t forget that if your insurance changes in January, they will need the new cards then too.

Check to see when the “parent orientation” is (if the school has that). My son’s was in the summer, my daughter’s just prior to school beginning. I was surprised to see a “parent” orientation, but my son’s was very helpful, so we will attend our D’s (and attend her matriculation “walk”)

Cant say this enough; get any and all hotel/motel reservations asap. I paid $150 a night for the Fall Family weekend in Ithaca - that same 2.5* hotel is now (2 weeks after I made the reservation) over $200 a night.

We lucked out for our daughter’s orientation - we found a great rate on HW. Prices were already going up for the Fall Family weekend there. (We had told our son that we would go to his freshman and his senior family weekends - unfortunately, his senior and our daughter’s freshman weekends fall on the same Fall - I say unfortunately not because we don’t want to go, but it is a lot of $ when both are in school.)

Also - be on the lookout for sales of Twin XL sheets. (Check the college - most have twin xl beds.) Look for sales of 3M Command Adhesive Hooks - handy yet expensive if you don’t look ahead. Another thing to think about is if the climate is very different at the college - we invested in a really warm winter coat at clearance cost at the end of this winter. We are also looking for a clearance backpack - my D’s is on its last legs, and will need one, but we don’t want to pay August prices for a new one.

Your child will need their social security card with them if they want to get a job.

Your child must sign a release for you as parents to be able to access their college stuff. She signed one for the health center, and maybe another one for be to me able to speak with financial aid.

Something I didn’t do, but recently learned about here on cc, is to have your adult child (18 or older) sign a medical directive to give you permission to make medical decisions for them if they are not able to.

Student should sign up for orientation. In some cases, the early dates mean earlier registration time for classes compared to frosh in later orientation dates.

Before orientation, student should check what first semester courses are needed for his/her intended major(s).

Before orientation, student should check placement guidelines for English, math, foreign language, etc. courses that s/he may take in college. If AP or IB credit is involved, it would be a good idea for him/her to try the old final exams of the courses that the AP or IB credit allows skipping.