Most college-bound children and their parents prepare for the big transition: leaving for college. An adjustment that is less discussed and may be less prepared for, however, occurs when that same student decides to stay at college for the summer.
Whether that happens in the first year or much farther down the line, the change comes with its own set of challenges.
This summer, coming after Lindsey's sophomore year, is the first time she has decided to stay in her college town, Lawrence, Kan. The decision wasn't totally unexpected. She had applied for and was eventually hired as an orientation assistant for the university. We knew that would mean she would stay at school for most of the summer.
As a mom, I was emotionally prepared for her leaving for college initially. You tend to expect and plan for that. I was a little less prepared for her choosing to live away for the summer. It was a sign that her sense of place and home was shifting. That's to be expected, however, and it's a good thing.
[Find out how to stop hovering over your teens.]
Emotions aside, here are the things my husband and I had to discuss with each other and with Lindsey regarding this move. If you are a parent in the middle of this transition, these are the things that you'll want to give consideration to as well:
1. Costs: Living expenses for the school year were budgeted, but living expenses for the summer were not yet a consideration. When they became one, we needed to decide as a family who would pay for what in terms of rent, food, and other necessities. It's best to get this figured out as far in advance of summer as possible in order to avoid misunderstandings.
[Answer these college financing questions as a family.]
2. Living arrangements: Since Lindsey lives in a sorority house during the school year, and that house was closed during the summer, we were concerned with where she would be living and with whom. Once she had nailed those items down, she and I took a tour of the place so she could see how large her room would be, and so I could put her father's fears to ease about working smoke detectors.
Like my mom said, the transition to living on my own was a big one–and even then, I was in a residence hall or sorority house. The prospect of truly living on my own is a little more daunting. It comes complete with grocery shopping and my own cleaning regimen and expenses. Here are some hurdles I hadn't initially considered:
1. Renter's agreements: Working with a landlord was something I had never done before, and filling out a rental contract was a little bit scary. I went over the contract with my parents before signing, but it was clear that living on my own over the summer meant a lot of responsibility for me. Don't be afraid to ask your parents for advice, however, especially if this is your first time living on your own.
2. Budgets: Don't get caught up in the excitement of newfound independence and forget to consider the cost of the adventure. When I'm living in a residence hall or sorority house, meals and utilities are not something I have to pay for on my own, and I don't clean my own bathroom; living on my own means new expenses, such as groceries, cleaning supplies, and laundry detergent. Use your money especially wisely during this time.