In a few weeks, incoming freshmen from around not only Bristol and Warren, Rhode Island but throughout the United States will flock to universities across America to begin their college career.
At first, this can be both exciting and nerve-racking for students and parents.
Below are some safety and legal tips parents and students can follow from LegalShield.
Budgeting – Make sure students have a framework for financial responsibility before they start school. Set a reasonable budget to cover food, books and other necessities. Make sure students have a system to track expenses and anticipate problems.
Credit Cards – Some lenders specifically target college students with credit card offers. It is important the students understand the pitfalls of high interest rates and the requirement to make monthly payments. Failure to make timely payments on credit cards can lead to a poor credit score and can affect an individual’s ability to obtain further credit or even find a job. Not all credit cards are bad and teaching your children about responsible spending is important. A low limit, low interest card for emergencies may be useful but parents should help review the terms carefully.
Alcohol and Drug Use – While many parents hope their teens will refrain from drinking or using drugs, it is important to teach children about critical health and legal consequences. Binge drinking and drug use are incredibly dangerous and even deadly. There are major legal consequences for students caught with alcohol underage or in possession of drugs. Violations could lead to suspension or expulsion from school but may also come with serious legal consequences depending on the charges.
Consent – While it can be a difficult conversation for parents and teens, it is vital to discuss sex and consent before students head off to school. Many schools now include information on sexual safety and consent in freshman orientation and will provide information to parents as well.
Social Media – It is important for teens and young adults to understand that the photos and content they post online can have long term consequences. Pictures of illegal activity or admissions of guilt made online can be used against them in court. Threats of violence against others, even if made in jest, may violate university policies and the law. Embarrassing content posted online can never truly be removed. Make sure teens understand that what they post online now could be seen by anyone they know or may know in the future.
Honor Code – Most colleges and universities have strict honor codes on acceptable academic behavior. Make sure students understand the risks and consequences involved in violating the honor code, which can mean suspension, probation or expulsion.
Health and Wellness – Exhaustion and poor nutrition combined with students being crammed together into dorms means freshmen get sick. Make sure your teen or young adult knows how to access student health services and takes a copy of their health insurance information with them to school. If they are far from home make sure they understand how to use their insurance out-of-network. In addition, college student’s over the age of 18 should have an executed living will or health care proxy. This will authorize parents or guardians to make critical medical decisions if the student is unable to do so.
We hope your son and daughter can try to follow some of these tips while enjoying their college experience!