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4 Things to Talk About Before your Teen goes to College

4 Things to Talk About Before your Teen goes to College

What is your first memory after high school? Did you excitedly shop for dorm decorations? Were you so eager to be an adult that you packed your bags as soon as you could? Or were you a little sad to see your childhood come to an end on graduation day?

Teens experience a lot of these feelings once high school graduation happens. With many decisions to make, their emotions can fall anywhere from excitement to sadness.

With all this going in their minds, there’s also a lot happening around them.

From finishing high school to moving into a dorm, the outside world is as chaotic as the one inside their minds. But in this chaos it’s important for parents to make time to talk with their teens about college.

While it may seem like they can handle this transition on their own, your voice is still important.
College is different for everyone. Talking about the transition before your teen leaves can ease some their stress. In keeping communication open, you can help them feel more prepared.

Here are four topics to touch on:

  1. Expectations

It’s important to communicate the expectations you have for your student before they leave for college. Let them know what you expect of their behavior and tell them the consequences if they don’t meet those expectations.

If you expect them to keep a certain GPA, talk with them about what grades they should be aiming for. If you want them to take over their own budget, let them know what bills they’ll need to pay.

Tell them what you expect of their behavior as well. Talk with them about the social parts of college. Do you hope they’ll rush the same sorority or fraternity? Do you want them to stay active in their sport or do you want them to branch out?

When you communicate these things to your student, they get to hear your hopes for their academic career. But it’s important to hear their input as well.

Listen to their expectations for this next stage of their life and ask questions. What kind of achievements do they expect from themselves? How much time do they expect to spend with friends? What grades do they want? What new organizations do they think they’ll join?

By talking through these things, you and your teen have the chance to come to an understanding with each other. If you don’t communicate these expectations, there isn’t a way that you and your teen can know what each of you wants from the other. This can result in miscommunication when classes begin.

  1. Alcohol

There’s no denying that alcohol is very present on college campuses around the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 60% of college students report that they drink. And half of the students who drink consume alcohol through binge drinking.

Binge drinking is when a person has a large amount of alcohol in a short amount of time. For women it’s 4 or more drinks in 2 hours and for men it’s 5 or more drinks in that same amount of time.

With these staggering numbers, it’s important to note that not all college students drink. Before your student moves into their down, encourage your student to get involved on campus in other ways.

You can make a list of free things they can do in their new community or help them make a schedule.

You should also talk to them about dangers that come with alcohol and binge drinking.

Both things can lead to many consequences. For instance, alcohol can disrupt a students’ academic performance or a student athlete’s training.

Alcohol also plays a huge role in the frightening number of sexual assault reports that happens on campuses every year.

Remind them that even though they’re in college, it is still illegal to drink under the age of 21.

  1. Peer Pressure

Many people believe that peer pressure gets left behind once a person finishes high school. But, peer pressure is around even as adults.

This can be especially true for many teens their first semester of college. During this time, new freshmen try to find ways to fit in, make friends and be involved on campus away from their family.

To help prepare your freshman for this, talk with them about the kinds of friends they want to have in college. What activities do they want to do? How do they want their friends to act?

By asking these questions, you can get your teen thinking about the different kinds of people they’ll encounter in college. This will help them to pick friends that are involved in productive activities. These are the peers that will help them avoid the pressure to drink.

Help your student make a list of free things they can do in their new community. Give them ideas for game nights they can have with their friends or weekend trips they can take to nearby cities to sightsee.

But in case they do end up feeling peer pressure from the students around them, don’t be afraid to go back to the basics.

Make sure they remember that drinking is a choice and that they can always find a way to say “no”.

  1. Stress

College can be overwhelming for new students. And even if it isn’t, the stress of adulthood can sink in fast when leaving home for the first time.

Equip your teen with ways to cope with this stress before they leave for school. By giving them tools to use to manage their stress, you can help them avoid the temptation to believe that alcohol is a cure-all for their stress.

This belief that alcohol takes stress away is common on campuses. But, all alcohol actually does is numb the emotions a person is feeling.

While some students may think this is a good thing, it is actually the start of a dangerous spiral.

Eventually, the amount of alcohol they were drinking to feel numb isn’t enough anymore. This can lead to a vicious cycle of problem drinking for many students.

Make sure your child knows to deal with stress in different ways. Encourage them to read, run or talk to someone when they’re stressed out.

Talk with them about deep breathing exercises or thinking objectively about their issue.

These things can help students when they move to college and are stress managing tactics they can use through adulthood.

College can be the highlight of life for many people. But for others, it can be four or more years of difficulty.

By talking with your teen, you can help them prepare for what their days on campus will hold. It’s also a great chance to soak up some quality time before they leave your home.

Enjoy the conversations you get to have with your teen before they leave for college. And remember that no matter how old they get, it’s important for them to stay safe and sober.

 

 

Kaitlyn Inman
kaitlyn@missourisafeandsober.com
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