The Pre-College To Do List

Ah, summer, you thought in years past. A season when time slows. No nagging the kids to get their schoolwork done, no worrying about statewide tests, no stressing about missing the bus or carpool.

But this summer you are preparing to send a child off to college. Your to-do list is a mile long and your stress level rises every time you glance at it. You have to gather documentation for the college disability services office! The final high school transcript must be uploaded! You have to submit an up-to-date vaccine report! The housing contract needs to be signed! Fall classes have to be selected! You have to find extra-long twin sheets! And what in the world are bed risers???

STOP!! Take a look at that list you made. Do you notice anything interesting? Almost all of the items on your list can and should be accomplished by your college-bound child – NOT by you. Wait. What? Yes, you heard me. Your college-bound child should be tasked with almost all of the pre-college chores. This can be a hard sell for many parents, but it is a vitally important part of the college transition. It is an opportunity for your child to develop independence and self-advocacy skills. Accomplishing these time-sensitive pre-college tasks can also serve as an important test of executive function skills.

The time-sensitive nature of these tasks is what make them so difficult for parents to relinquish control. You, the parent, understand the consequences to your child if the tasks are not completed on time. My advice to you is this: hold a planning meeting with your child in late May or early June. Here’s an agenda for that meeting:

  1. Review the detailed tasks and timelines.
  2. Identify the tasks for which your child is responsible. Together, come up with a plan and tentative schedule.
  3. Agree on the role you will play in supporting your child. For example, you may assure your child that while they are responsible for communicating with Disability Service or their pediatrician, you can listen on the calls or help them outline the questions they need to ask.
  4. Establish a plan for your child to keep you updated on their progress and determine ground rules for inquiries you might make to check in.

With proper planning, the summer before college can be just as calm as previous summers even as your college-bound child begins the journey to adulthood. And you might even get an afternoon at the pool while they shop for those infamous bed risers.