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Prepping Kids for Big City Colleges

SOAS Campus

Sending your kids off to college is an anxious yet exciting time for most families. As parents you’re excited to see your young adult make a major step towards independence and adulthood. Yet you’re concerned for your child’s safety, their ability to successfully transition to college life and their well-being.

Your kids are excited to be moving from under the protective wing of Mom and Dad and get the full collegiate experience. Traditional college students do experience some social shock when they are finally in charge of their own lives.  Students who have grown up in small communities or towns can also experience cultural shock when going to a big city university. Here are a few considerations for all families with this particular challenge.

Visiting Campuses

A college or university is a miniature of the outside world. It’s designed to prepare young people to enter the wide world of business and commerce with confidence in the skills and talents they develop in school. It’s as much about preparation as it is about education.

Visit schools and comparison shop the same way when buying a car.

  • Will the degree prepare them to pursue their life’s dreams?
  • While the university may have a great reputation, what about your stepchild’s chosen department?
  • How cutting edge are the classes?
  • Is the faculty old-hats or trendsetters in their field?

University of San Diego By Phil Konstantin

School Location

A college town is just that. The college or university is so big it is the heart of the community. This may sound perfect. The fact is these schools can still be located in large cities. The schools can present more opportunities for your young adult to encounter adversity.

Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a real possibility in a major metropolitan area. Street-smarts is rarely a skill set possessed by a student from a small town. Universities are very serious about police security and illegal behavior.

Your darling stepdaughter must learn to think defensively about her personal safety. Encourage her to stay close to campus and become fully comfortable to that environment before venturing beyond it. Talk to her about developing friendships with upperclassmen who are savvy about the surrounding community and can accompany her on city trips.

When traveling into the city, going in groups can be a good decision until the she knows her way around. And remind her as often as need be by phone, email, or social media to keep her eyes on the prize – that degree, which is the main reason she’s enrolled.

College dorm room

Living Arrangements

Dormitory living may seem like the best arrangement because it’s on campus, but the size of the student population may make dorm life a complicated  challenge in terms of security and social interactions.  And in big cities, dorms are not always the norm. Limited dormitory space has become a chronic problem for many colleges, compelling them to offer vouchers for off-campus housing.

Choosing an apartment requires careful research. Among the major issues that should be thoroughly considered before signing a lease are:

  • Proximity to the campus
  • Availability of public transportation and campus shuttle services
  • On-site security guards
  • Ease of off-street access and security codes
  • Short-term lease opportunities
  • Well lit parking lots, hallways, and elevators

Social Life Management

Most life lessons during our college years occur outside the classroom. Peer pressure is ferocious and your stepchild will need to hone his coping skills to resist succumbing to that pressure. For example, alcohol use/abuse is generally considered a rite of passage. You should talk to him about his right to say “No thanks” to that particular rite, because the truth is that it’s illegal behavior until at least the junior year for any traditional student.

Illegal possession of alcohol is not tolerated by colleges as it once was, so a seemingly small matter can become very serious, especially when it involves an accident or DUI charge. Additionally, convictions can create an adult criminal history during the teenage years and impact a student’s career opportunities later.

Make sure your son knows ahead of time exactly what he should do if he’s involved in an accident. For example, he can find good legal advice at http://www.manhattanaccidentattorneys.net/. Arm him with the tools, resources, and information he’ll need to handle his own affairs and his confidence will grow.

The actual value of a university degree to an employer is the student demonstrated an ability to complete a long-term personal project. Which suggests the student will be a focused and serious employee. A well-rounded collegiate experience should include making wise decisions to avoid potential problems while still doing the necessary work to excel academically.

One benefit of attending college in a big city is networking opportunities are much more numerous in a locale where the student is already established. Maintaining a good academic track record and establishing a glowing social reputation begins on the first day of his freshman year.

Writer and former university professor LaGeris Underwood Bell could write a book about how to get a child ready for college life. In the meantime she hopes this modest article will be a good starting point for parents preparing for that big day in their child’s life.

Photo credit #1: http://www.flickr.com/photos/poeloq/259167077/

Photo credit #2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/36205567@N07/7314424284/

Photo credit #3: http://www.flickr.com/photos/laffy4k/524581047/



  1. April Labarron

    I think no matter how much preparation an adolescent is given, they will still have to experience it on their own to truly learn some of life’s hardest lessons. Failure, love, finishing something etc. Well written article.

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