Unique Tips for Parents on How to Prepare Their Teenagers for a Healthy Transition to College


 As parents embark on the emotional journey of sending their children off to college, Nurse Practitioner Barb Dehn, RN, MS, NP, also known as television personality and award-winning author Nurse Barb, offers parents unique tips to prepare their student for a healthy and a successful transition.

To help students get ready for college, most families will discuss a wide variety of topics, including eating correctly, getting enough sleep, practicing good study habits, staying active, and the prospect of attending parties with drugs and alcohol. Nurse Barb adds to these discussions by making a few more key, but not so obvious, points:

1. Organize your family's policy regarding information access – As outlined in FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), when your child turns 18, he or she has full adult medical and academic privacy rights. Even if you are providing full financial support, you have absolutely no rights to any academic or health information unless your child is gravely ill. More information on FERPA can be found at www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/reg/ferpa/index.html?exp=8.

Ask the University if any Health Care Proxy, Health Care Durable Power of Attorney, and/or Health Care Advanced Directive forms are available. By completing these forms, you can gain access to medical records and make decisions about your child's physical health care needs.

If these forms are unavailable or they do not cover what you need, have your child sign a waiver granting permission for healthcare providers to give you medical information in case of an emergency.

2. Tour the College Heath Center – Most incoming freshmen have never been to the emergency room without their parents. Furthermore, they are unaware of how to make a doctor's appointment, fill prescriptions, or use their medical insurance.

Upon arriving on campus, plan to visit the University Heath Center. Together with your child, review the Center's medical policies and procedures. Bring a brochure to the dorm room and tape it to the back of the door. Now, the information is easily accessible. Additionally, take your student to the neighborhood off-campus pharmacy and urgent care facility, so they know where to go in case of an emergency.

3. Encourage a Self-Defense Class – This may be the most helpful summer enrichment class a student will ever take. It is unfortunate, but the number of sexual assaults on both girls and boys on college campuses has increased dramatically.

It is shocking to parents that victims know their assailant 90 percent of the time, and only 12 percent of all attacks are ever reported. RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) offers classes for prospective college freshmen throughout the country this summer. More information can be found at rad-systems.com/rad_programs.html.

4. Encourage Public Transportation Use – Many college freshman who grew up in the suburbs have had limited exposure to public transportation. Teaching them to safely navigate through their new college town by bus and/or train can help them make a smoother, less stressful transition to campus life.

5. Practice Difficult Conversations – Recall when you and every teacher repeated the phrase, "Use Your Words," and explain that good communication is going to be the key to your child's success away from home. Living in close quarters with a roommate or in a crowded dorm provides ample opportunities for students to discover themselves. Learning how to negotiate with roommates, friends, and professors will benefit them greatly during their college years.

Source: Barb Dehn, RN, MS, NP, NurseBarb.com