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Advice for College Parents: What To Say To Your College Freshman

Advice for college freshman comes in many forms. What will you say to your college-bound teen? For your first born, your speech might be long and teary. The advice for a teen boy may be to take college seriously and act responsibly. For a teen girl, you might offer ways she can protect herself from the opposite sex. And with your last little bundle of joy, you might wax sentimental, or just dump and run.

Here's what one college freshman wants to share:

The most influential factor, though, is probably your teen son or daughter’s personality. Advice for the wild, impulsive kid who pushed every one of your buttons for 18 years will be quite different than advice for the college-bound, straight-laced nerd.

My friend used to say that she needed to hire a nanny for her first two kids, but she needed to find a private detective for her last one. She researched Ivy leagues for the first two and worried that she’d be looking at jails with the third. I bet her talk with her calm, well-behaved kids will sound quite different than the chat she’ll have with her “terror.”

Another friend shared his list of dos and don’ts that he’s just presented his happy-go-lucky, scatterbrained son:

  • Maintain at least a “B” average, or find someone else to pay the 60+k tuition.
  • Get involved in the college community.
  • Don’t sleep until 11 am every morning.
  • Be smart and wear a condom.
  • Don’t bring home a high-maintenance girlfriend because I can barely deal with your mom and your sister.
  • Never get in a car with anyone who is drunk.
  • Don’t do drugs, or you could end up in the hospital or dead.
  • Be smart about spending money.

I smiled as I read this, just picturing his son nodding but not paying a bit of attention to one word. I replied with a very different list for my studious and responsible son.

  • Get one C so that I know you’re having some fun.
  • Allow yourself one day when your classes don’t start until 11 am so you can sleep late.
  • Bring home a girlfriend to lighten you up.
  • Use a condom.
  • Don’t sniff, inhale, or ingest anything unless your doctor prescribed it.
  • Spend some money. There’s no pocket in a shroud.

I doubt that my suggestions will change my son’s behavior. But I did start to wonder what other friends were telling their kids as they prepared to send them off on this adventure called college.

Everyone has advice for incoming freshman. What are you going to say, or what have you already said?

Valerie Newman lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids. When Valerie started mixing up her kid’s college applications with her mother’s nursing home applications, she knew she was part of the sandwich generation.

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