Starting College

Do you have a teenager starting college soon? What are you saying to them about alcohol, drugs, sex, the freshman five weight gain? What important conversations are you having before they leave?

Parent Replies

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RE: Starting College ()

My daughter was a freshman last year. I don't remember having a specific sit-down conversation about these things, but I'm sure I had been working these topics into general conversations since early in high school. Now I keep trying to work in the topic of not getting mugged and the laptop thefts that have become so common around the Cal campus. Maybe you know more about your teenager's views on these topics already than you think? Perhaps try to bring up a topic or two casually and see how it goes?

RE: Starting College ()

I never read books like this, but I highly recommend "Get Savvy:  Letters to a Teenage Girl about Sex and Love."  It talks about real life situations and has practical information about how to handle them (before, during and after).  My now-junior who thought she was very "savvy" picked it up out of boredom and learned a lot.  She insisted I read it, and recommends that every girl, boy and parent read this before college (or even sooner).  

RE: Starting College ()

Have a daughter starting this year and another one next year.   Ummm, these are all conversations we had years ago.  I would repeat the same conversation you probably had with her in middle school or when she started high school.  There is one thing I am stressing to both of my daughters.  DO NOT under any circumstances take or let anyone take  nearly naked or naked pictures and post on the Internet or on social media.  Remind here with face recognition software she can be identified years from now.  Also been telling my daughters to be very careful of what you post on social media.  Sex, drugs, alcohol are all things learned before and during high school for my girls.

RE: Starting College ()

My child just had their first year of college; I checked with them on what they considered important, and have added in some things I am glad we've discussed. 

1. Time management: get them a good planner and help them learn to use it. Although some schools give out planners, many students don't actually know how to use them. Many students develop poor ways of managing their homework in high school, and then keep doing it in college. Pulling all-nighters is bad for learning, and bad for their health.

2. Regular sleep and exercise are vital to their health and well-being. With proper time management skills, they can do this. See: no all-nighters, above.

3. Make sure you take at least one class per semester that you are excited about; don't try to get all your prerequisites out of the way at the beginning.

4. Freshman 5? Don't bother discussing this - not your place; healthy food, exercise and sleep - that's what to discuss. At most you can tell them that people often gain a little weight, and not to stress about it.

5. Don't be afraid to ask for help - with schoolwork, with counseling, with choices, with problems. Professors give office hours for a reason - go to them! Make a connection with them - they could wind up being your reference later. Colleges provide tutors for a reason - there is no shame in going to tutoring hours. Often students get the idea that asking for help means they're dumb - wrong. In their first semester, many people get poorer grades than they are used to getting. Don't despair - get help.

6. Sex: consent, consent, consent. No matter their gender - no consent, no nookie. Birth control: BOTH genders are responsible for safe sex - not just the ones who can get pregnant. BOTH partners should use birth control.

7. Drugs and alcohol: it's normal to experiment a little - but be really, really careful - never overdo it. Don't take ANYTHING you are not 100% sure is safe. NEVER get in the car with a driver who's been drinking. Don't drink too much - it puts you at risk for all kinds of bad things.

8. Security: lock your dorm door even when you're just going to the bathroom. The dorm can feel like  your home - but it's not. Don't leave your belongings unattended even for a moment in a classroom, dining hall, cafe. Don't walk at night with earbuds in. Walk in pairs with others. Don't go into unpopulated areas after dark. Talk about what to do if they're assaulted.