College Preparation Tips to Help Your Student Adapt and Succeed
If you’re sending your child or grandchild off to college soon, there’s likely a lot on your mind. It’s common to worry that they don’t have all the life skills they need to live independently, or that they lack the wisdom and experience to make smart decisions for themselves. While college is a time of immense growth and evolution in many ways, it’s also wise to give young people the tools they need to make the most of this phase of life. So, when it comes to preparing your student for success, here are a few pieces of advice we suggest you impart.
Master Time Management
Chances are if your student was successful in high school and is off to college, then they already have a good idea of what it takes to balance their academic and social lives. However, college comes with so many social opportunities that they may need to sharpen their tools to stay on track academically while still enjoying the other aspects of college life. Many colleges and universities offer seminars to first-year students on study habits and time management, so encourage them to attend. They might also find value in these popular time management apps.
Set Up a Power of Attorney (POA)
Your new college student will likely be craving autonomy and independence – and even actively avoiding your influence or control. Still, you’ll want to suggest setting up a power of attorney (POA) to protect their wishes. Specifically, a health care POA allows a designated individual to make decisions about medical care if doctors certify that your young person can no longer make their own decisions due to illness or an accident. Since it only goes into effect if your college student becomes incapacitated, you can reassure them that it doesn’t give you full access to their medical information or mean that you can control their general medical care. Frame it as a smart strategy to protect the future they’re working so hard to build by naming someone to carry out their wishes and make decisions for them with their best interest in mind, should an emergency scenario unfold.
Encourage Financial Literacy
Since going away to college may be their first time away from home and managing money independently, an important aspect of adapting to college will be how they handle money and financial decision-making. So, the following college preparation tips are all about money:
Create a Realistic Budget (And Learn to Stick to It!)
Budgeting is an important skill to learn, regardless of a person’s financial situation. Help your new college student start off on the right financial footing by guiding them in how to create a budget they can stick to. Impart just how important – and practical – it is to know what is coming in and what is going out each month, and to be intentional about spending and saving. This conversation can easily lead to lessons about needs versus wants, financial goal setting, and the importance of always having an eye to the future. There are many user-friendly budgeting apps available, too, such as Mint, Personal Capital, or YNAB.
Start an Emergency Fund
A significant part of finding financial success and security in life is building habits early on that become second nature. This is certainly true of saving, and it’s important for your new college student to commit to putting at least a small amount away each month. An emergency fund is a savvy place for a young person to start, so plant the seed and explain how saving for a rainy day can offer protection from unexpected expenses that could otherwise derail their plans. Since they likely won’t be earning much yet, don’t place your focus on an amount. Rather, help your student develop a saving habit that will continue to serve them for many years to come. You might base it on a percentage of their income, for instance, and help them use their bank’s automatic features to transfer the proper amount into an emergency fund each month. Make it clear that their emergency fund is for actual emergencies and not for example, last-minute social events or Spring Break trips. It should be a safeguard that should only be used in the event of a necessary and unexpected expense.
Build Credit and Learn About Credit Scores
The road to creditworthiness is paved with good intentions, but many young people don’t understand how easy it is to make one or two poor decisions that may haunt them for the next decade. Talk with your student about what it means to be someone worthy of credit, why they might need it (to purchase a car or a home, or to get approved by an apartment rental agency), and how to use it wisely. Too many people get trapped in a cycle of high-interest debt from credit card purchases they make when they’re young, so take pains to keep your new college student out of this trap. If they do have a credit card or plan to get one, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, using one sparingly and paying it off each month can be a smart way to build good credit. Focus your discussion on savvy uses of credit, the importance of avoiding late payments, and how to check their credit report annually for free.
Final Thoughts on College Preparation Tips for Your Student
The above college preparation tips are by no means comprehensive. As you send your child off for college move-in, remember that you can’t prepare them for everything – and that’s okay! After all, some of the greatest moments of growth in our lives come from making mistakes and learning from them.
If you have questions about anything covered in this article, or you’d like to discuss another aspect of personal financial planning, please give us a call today! At Aviance, we take pride in offering personalized wealth advice and investment solutions for your family, and we would be delighted to talk with you about how we can help you reach your goals.
Aviance Capital Partners, LLC (“ACP”) is an SEC registered investment adviser located in Naples, Florida. Registration as an investment adviser is not an endorsement by securities regulators and does not imply that ACP has attained a certain level of skill, training, or ability. While information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date, ACP does not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of ACP as of the date of publication and are subject to change. Not all services will be appropriate or necessary for all clients, and the potential value and benefit of the ACP’s services will vary based upon the client’s individual investment, financial, and tax circumstances. The effectiveness and potential success of a tax strategy, investment strategy, and financial plan depends on a variety of factors, including but not limited to the manner and timing of implementation, coordination with the client and the client’s other engaged professionals, and market conditions. ACP suggests that readers consult a financial professional, attorney or tax advisory professional about their specific financial, legal or tax situation. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss, and different investments and types of investments involve varying degrees of risk. There can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment or investment strategy, including those undertaken or recommended by ACP, will be profitable or equal any historical performance level. Additional information about ACP, including its Form ADV Part 2A describing its services, fees, and applicable conflicts of interest and its Form CRS is available upon request and at https://adviserinfo.sec.gov/firm/summary/146597. For current ACP clients, please advise us promptly in writing, if there are ever any changes in your financial situation or investment objectives, if you wish to impose any reasonable restrictions to our management of your account, or if you have not been receiving at least quarterly account statements from your account custodian.