You’re about to enter a stage of your life that’s radically different from the past 18 years or so. If you are moving out for college rather than commuting, you need to discuss these important issues with your parents before you leave. Some topics may be difficult or awkward to talk about, but in the end you’ll be thankful for having these conversations.
Arguably the most pressing issue to discuss with your parents before leaving for college is money! Will you continue/start to receive allowance while you’re away? Or are you expected to find a job as soon as possible to support yourself? If they took out loans, you should talk to them about that, too. Do they expect you to pay them back? If so, when? There’s a lot to consider with all of this, so make sure you get it all sorted out as soon as possible.
Drinking can be a huge part of the college experience. Or it can’t be. Really, it’s up to you, the friends you make, and the places you spend your weekend nights. So before you enter college, you should discuss with your parents what expectations they have for you, as well as tips for safe, smart drinking if you’re unfamiliar with alcohol.
3. Birth Control
Like drinking, sex can either be a big part of college, or not at all. It really depends on you and your thoughts about “hookup culture”. Regardless of what you think you will or won’t do now, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Ask your parents any awkward questions you have about safe sex and pregnancy prevention. If you are afraid that your parents will react horribly to your questions, ask a doctor or other trusted adult, like an aunt or former teacher, for advice.
4. Visitation Rights
Not to make you sound like a prisoner, but visitation rights are something to discuss before leaving for college. Questions to put on the table are: How often will you come home? Will they visit you? Are they tech-savvy enough to figure out Skype? Or will you kick it old school and become pen pals? Believe it or not, you will miss your parents, and they’ll definitely miss you, so inform each other of visitation rights sooner rather than later.
5. Plan B
No, not the “morning after pill”, you can discuss that with number 3. But there’s another Plan B you need to consider. Say college doesn’t work out, which it doesn’t for everyone. Can you take time off and come home? Or will your parents simply encourage you to attend a commuter school or community college? Worse yet, will they expect you to move out, get a job, and support yourself financially? Before you leave, figure out Plan B with your parents so that you’re prepared for the worst case scenario.
6. Studying Abroad
If you’re like me, the most exciting prospect of starting college is the option to study abroad! But there’s more to studying abroad than picking a spot on a map and packing your bags. First, figure out if your parents are okay with you moving to another country for a semester—this is especially important if they’re paying for your tuition, because then their opinion has more weight. If they are fine with you studying abroad, then now you need to figure out how you’ll get there—or rather, who will pay for you to get there! Will they pay? Do you need to get a job and start saving? Or can you go halfsies? You’ll never know until you talk about it.
7. Aged Wisdom
Lastly, there are things that I can’t include on this list simply because I don’t have a parent’s perspective or wisdom yet. So my advice is just sit down and let your parents talk to you. Encourage them to open up about their young adult years and share their wealth of wisdom before you leave.
Your parents are a great resource for advice throughout your life, especially during transitions. I hope you and your parents both open up while having these important conversations! What other topics are worth discussing before you leave for college?