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You work hard to think of everything you need to do before college drop-off day in August—make lists of what to buy for their dorm room or what to say to them as they leave. But here are a few practical matters you should consider before you drive away.

What to do before your freshman leaves home for college:

  1. A Way to Transfer Money: You may or may not need to give your student funds during the semester but when you do it may be an urgent situation. Make sure that before they leave for college you have a way to transfer money between accounts or through a service like Venmo.
  2. Continuing Medical or Psychological Care: Students with preexisting medical or psychological conditions, who will need ongoing care, will need to arrange that in advance of arriving on campus. Student health centers can be helpful in suggesting local resources and clarifying what services they make available. Contact them before the semester begins.
  3. Medical Information: Make sure your students are familiar with their own medical history. Yes, they can call or text you at intake but this is information they will always need. Make sure they have all the details of any surgeries, allergies, or illnesses they have had.
  4. Documents to Allow Parents Access to Medical Records: Once your teen turns 18 their medical information is protected for their own privacy (see HIPPA). In some families this is fine. In other families’ parents and teens agree that parents may need access to some or all records. Explore what documents you should consider signing before your teen leaves home.
  5. Find Local Urgent Care or Emergency Rooms: If the student health center isn’t 24 hours, you should find a local medical center that will accept your family’s health insurance and will not result in an enormous out-of-pocket bill. Have your student store the Urgent care and Emergency Room phone numbers and addresses in their contacts.
  6. Insurance Cards: Make sure they have their own health and dental insurance cards, with photos front and back, on their phone.
  7. Social Security Number: Let them memorize this number–they’ll need it.
  8. Consider Renter’s Insurance: This is a good moment for your teen to learn about insurance and compare policies and costs.
  9. Eyes: Get duplicates of your teen’s eyeglass or contact prescriptions.
  10. First Aid: Create a small first aid kit with relevant medications and first-aid treatments.
  11. Ridesharing: Ridesharing gift card for “emergency” rides when needed. Our teens will swear up and down that neither they nor their friends will drink and drive. But adolescent impulse control is far from perfect. Give them some ride-sharing funds to keep them safe.
  12. Roommate’s Contact Details: Share contact information with your teen’s roommate-to-be for use in an emergency situation.
  13. Prescriptions: Consider how they will get their prescriptions, new ones, or those preexisting, filled locally. Explore if there is a local 24-hour pharmacy.
  14. Discuss Sharing Grades Information: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) means that you will not automatically have access to your student’s grades. For some families this works, for others parental access is important. Sign the appropriate documents that will enable you to see their grades.
  15. Budgeting: Talk about budgeting. For freshmen living in the dorms, this might be simple with just a tiny budget for extras like pizza and an occasional meal out. But for upperclassmen, this is a great chance to break down living expenses and show them how to plan for their spending around rent, car, insurance, food, and entertainment so they get a realistic picture of their spending before the semester begins.

It’s never too early to supply our students with the items they need to begin their journey to independence.


ScholarShare 529, California’s college savings plan, publishes the College Countdown website and articles to provide resources and to ease the minds of parents preparing to send their kids to college. Visit ScholarShare 529.