Preparing for College Part 1: Tips for Parents for Supporting the First Year

by Allison Oster

After weighing the options, your child made their choice and selected the college they want to attend. Congratulations! It’s the first big step in the next part of their education journey. You may be wondering, “What’s next?” How do you help prepare them for this next transition?

Once your child commits to a school, it’s time to start thinking about what they can do now to prepare for college. As a parent, it’s important to be part of this process while still allowing your child to take the lead. The following resources can help you support them as they look forward to the year ahead.

Choosing a Major

Not every student will choose a major before their freshman year, and that’s okay. In fact, for those who are more unsure of what they want to pursue, the first year of college is a great opportunity to explore options and subjects that appeal to their skills and interests. If they know what major they want to pursue, this is a good time to get to know more about that program and what to expect.

Check Off Those Academic Requirements

Does your child need to complete any college placement tests or provide any other academic information before registering for classes? Their admissions counselor can help determine what they may still need, such as writing, math, or language assessments, to ensure they get in the right classes their first year. Watch for events like APU’s Summer Orientation, which helps students get started on the right foot with their academic advising.

Deciding Where to Live

Is your child planning to live on campus or commute from off campus? Knowing where they will live may change how you may prepare for the transition. There are benefits to both options! The most important thing is to talk through this with your son or daughter and begin to set expectations for what that transition will look like.

Share Your Best Life Tips

Whether you have stories from your time in college or your child is the first in your family to attend college, there are important life tips they can benefit from as they step into this next stage of adulthood. Don’t wait until a week before they leave home! Start planning now for what life advice you can share, from how to do laundry to tips for making connections in new spaces.

Have additional questions on how to prepare for the first year at APU? This New Student Checklist can help. And don’t hesitate to call our admissions team for more information.

Looking for additional tips for parents? Check out part 2 and part 3 of this series.

Allison Oster ’01, M.A. ’05, is the senior editorial director in the Office of University Relations.