A guide to help you make the most of the summer before freshman year. 

BeachNow that your teenager has settled on where they’re going to college this fall, your family has taken a collective sigh of relief. But you’ve also quickly figured out that sitting back and relaxing until classes start isn’t possible. The mail that began arriving from the college only a few days after the deposit cleared was probably your first clue. No reason to panic. Here’s some perspective from my archives on what to expect, how to tackle the to-do list and still find plenty of time to have fun this summer.

Doubting their choice Left with some time to think about the college they ultimately picked, some kids start to question their decision. There are many reasons why they reconsider, but this post on what to do if your son or daughter is having second thoughts will help you calm their fears and address their concerns.

Identifying the next steps You may be wondering what exactly needs to get done now. You don’t have to worry about packing just yet—wait until the off-to-college sales (you can check out my posts on packing for college here). But now is the time to sign up for orientation, figure out housing options, check that AP and IB scores are sent to the college and more, which are all covered in this post.

Parents do this, not that Your instincts tell you to focus on staying on top of your high school graduate (or soon-to-be) to ensure they complete all their pre-college tasks. Relax, your child has a few months, or maybe it’s easier to look at it in terms of weeks, to systematically get through the to-do list. Everything doesn’t have to be accomplished all at once, although I don’t recommend waiting until the week before classes to do it all. Read my post on the dos and don’ts for parents the summer before freshman year to keep both you and your teen from feeling pressured.

Important, but often forgotten In the midst of worrying about buying extra long twin sheet sets and signing up to access a student loan, families often miss things like setting up a student bank account or making a dental appointment. Read this college freshman checklist to be sure you cover everything with your child.

Chestnut Hill College New Student Orientation ...
(Photo credit: Create-Learning Team Building & Leadership)

Orientation is for students AND parents Most of us remember our own orientation taking place in the fall, during the first couple of days of freshman year. So it will likely strike you as odd to learn that your son or daughter must visit their college over the summer, and that you are strongly urged or, in some cases, required to attend, too. But that’s how things work today at most colleges. Check out my post on what to expect at orientation so that both you and your teenager are prepared for this new experience.

With a clearer picture of how to prepare your child (and yourself) for college in the fall, you can breathe another sigh of relief and turn your attention to making the most of what’s left of their senior year of high school and their first post-high school summer for all of you. Enjoy the moments. You deserve it.

Please share your advice on what to do the summer before college in the comments section below.

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