Parents of high school seniors –

Do you want to enjoy this summer before college? Here are a few tips from a college kid who’s been there and suffered lived through it.

Hi, there! It’s lovely to meet you. My name is Claire Portele, and I am a rising senior at Belmont University in Nashville, TN. This summer, I am working with College Aid Pro to give you an inside look into the mind of a living, breathing college kid! Think of me as an in – your ticket into better understanding your college student, hgraduationow their mind works, and a closer contact to university life: because let’s face it, college and the people who attend it are very different from how they were a few years ago!

The summer before your freshman year of college is many things, all of them far from easy. For some, it’s a welcomed change. For others, it’s a daunting step and an ever-present reminder that adulthood looms onthe horizon. This season is a constant reminder that, in many ways, this is it. The last summer with your high school friends. The last summer living with your family. The last summer in your hometown.

The toughest part about leaving for college is that you have to get through all of the goodbyes before you can enjoy all of the new beginnings. It’s a wild, and emotional time, so when deciding how to spend the last summer with your college student, it’s important to consider these things: 

1. Fear is relevant and real. As I headed into my freshman year of college, I was scared. Really scared. For me, college marked the beginning of life on my own: and that was simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying. On top of that, I was an out of state student. I didn’t know anybody at the university I was slated to attend, and I absolutely did not know all of the things that I needed to in order to live by myself in any capacity for the first time.

That being said, if your teenager seems more moody/unstable/angry than usual, fear is usually what that stems from. As a result of my own fear, I became closed off, uppity, and if I’m being completely honest, a general pain in the rear to be around. The best antidote to this fear is grace, and while sometimes it can be hard to extend, it’s often exactly what’s needed. 

2. If you love something, set it free. This may sound harsh, but you have to learn how to let go. Your child is always, always going to be your child, but they cannot grow into a fully functioning adult if you hover. I cannot tell you how many people I met my freshman year that didn’t know how to do their own laundry because their parents had always done it for them.

Use this summer as a trial run to help them get acclimated! Give them their space. Practice letting them do things on their own. Let them work a job or make a budget to practice providing for themself. It may be difficult at first, but I promise, they’ll thank you later when they don’t accidentally shrink their favorite jeans in the wash. 


3. Home cooking is hard to come by. One of the biggest things I’ve missed since becoming a college student is my mother’s home cooking. Cafeteria burnout is real, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot live off of ramen for an extended period of time (speaking from experience). Take this time to cook your student their favorite meals-orbetter yet, teach them how to cook these meals themselves! Lots of college campuses have communal kitchens that are available for student use, so having these recipes on hand can be incredibly helpful. Whether it’s spaghetti or chocolate chip cookies, food is often the best remedy for when homesickness hits. 

4. Make a packing list. I might be beating a dead horse here, but I’m sure you’re already aware of the importance of planning out what you’re bringing to college before the last minute: so here’s yet another reminder from a student herself. Do not wait to make a packing list.

Start early with a closet/room clean out to make space for new clothes and items for college! Pack versatile items that can be worn up until Thanksgiving (or the first time your student comes home to visit). Packing is no easy feat, so make an experience out of it! After deep cleaning, help your student make a list of all of the things they still need and then go get them together! Make a day out of planning your student’s *realistic*, budget-friendly dream dorm room. 

dorm room

Create a Pinterest board while grabbing coffee or lunch. Make it a project that the two of you can collaborate on together. Encourage your student to use social media sites like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok to learn from other college students what they do and do not need. Hint: it’s usually not 17 pairs of shoes. 

5. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. With all of the chaos surrounding the final season at home, it may seem like your student is more excited to go to college than they are sad about leaving home. It may be frustrating, but please remember how many feelings they’re feeling during this time.

Summer is a combination of excitement, fear (see number 1), nostalgia, and confusion. It’s like going through another puberty in a way, a time where you can’t control what you’re thinking or the feelings that come as a result of those thoughts.

Your student may be focusing on the excitement that comes with this transition so they don’t have to think about how much they’re going to miss being at home.

Trust me, the “I miss you” phone calls will come.


Please stay tuned for my next article, covering college-related expenses, how to budget your money as a student, and what it’s like living as a broke college kid.