3 Topics to Bring Up with Your College-Bound Student

Whether or not you have already sent some kids to college, it’s important to have some time to talk to your student about making responsible choices while they are at school. Even if they don’t appear to be listening to you, parents are still one of the most important sources of information for young adults. There are several things you may want to speak with them about before they head off.

Money and Budgeting

Your student will face more expenses in college than they did in high school, and you'll need to talk about them openly. More independence comes with more responsibility, and you will need to guide them along the way. It is easy to overspend without realizing it, and many college students have limited resources, making careful budgeting a must. Talk about expenses like food, books, and discretionary spending. If your child wants to go out to eat beyond their meal plan, buy extra clothing, or take a trip, you may ask them to cover these expenses. You can encourage them to get a part-time job during the school year or to work during school breaks.

You may agree to pay for some expenses, like required books, tuition, course fees, and room and board. To make it easier to cover the costs, consider discussing where to use student loans or taking out a low-rate Private Parent loan. These loans are a great way to supplement any savings you may already have set aside for this purpose. It's important to set up rules now so everyone’s expectations are on the same page. If you are allowing your child to have a credit card, give them clear rules on how it can be used, as you may be on the hook for the bill if you co-sign it with them.

Expectations for Behavior

You may want to talk about what you expect of your child. You might expect them to attend classes without skipping any, unless they have an emergency. And you may want to talk to them about grade expectations. While you shouldn’t expect them to pull straight A’s, you may ask them to let you know if they fail a test or if their grade average is a C or lower. You can encourage them to reach out to their campus resources if they need help or extra tutoring. You can also talk about expectations for taking care of themselves, including eating well, getting enough sleep, and taking responsibility for their safety. You might ask to know when they are traveling or going out alone at night.


Since you are parenting in the digital age it's also important to talk about how your child can protect themselves when they go online. It's common for roommates or college friends to feel like they need to share everything, even personal information. Let your student know it is not okay to share passwords to online accounts, phones, or computers. Have them store sensitive information and money in a safe area. You might consider getting a safe for some of these things.

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