Many kids at 18-year-olds venture out to college. Living on campus, having no curfew, and eating and drinking whatever they want. Going from structure to unlimited freedom opens the door to getting a little wild. Before sending your kids off to college it is important that the structure you provided them in your home carries over to their lifestyle in college. Laying the foundation of how to stay on track and out of debt is key to having a successful start to their adult life after graduation. Here are three tips to keep them focused and on track:
Make Them Responsible For Some Of Their Expenses - Many parents take on the burden of all the expenses for their kid's college. I'm not saying that starting a college fund to help with expenses is bad, but making your children responsible for part of it, is an important way to teach them how to manage money and develop a budget to balance their fun with school. A great place to start is to have them be in charge of buying their books. Teach them how to research costs so they get the best bang for their buck. Lastly, be sure they understand how much school costs. One thing I didn't realize when I was an undergrad was the overall cost. I did all the paperwork that my parents had me fill out but they took on the responsibility of payments each semester. Make them a part of that process so they understand what is being spent and how it is helping them with their future.
Encourage Having A Job - Getting a part-time job will provide a schedule. This will help with time management, staying on task with schoolwork, and earning money to help with expenses. Be sure your kids do research on job options. Finding an on-campus job where they can do homework such as selling tickets at a box office or finding an assistant position that can help with tuition could both be beneficial.
Encourage Extra-Curricular Activities - Joining clubs or greek life (sororities or fraternities) can be a great bonding experience and a place where they can connect with people that have similar interests. These activities of course add to the expenses, but they will provide great stories after they leave college. Isn't that something we are all after? Experiences to share. I cannot remember what happened in my history or science class, but I can tell you about that one night when we drank alcohol out of a bucket and decided to turn one of the fraternity houses into a home-alone funhouse. That night with four of my best friends was a night full of laughing until it hurt. Anytime I see my sorority sisters we pick up right where we left off.
Expenses are part of college, but don't let them miss out on finding out who they are in the process.