SUU Blog | T-Bird Nation

4 Crucial Conversations to Have with Your Kids Before College

By Southern Utah University on May 27, 2016 in

Students, Parents

Just yesterday your kid was in diapers, or so it seems. Now elementary, middle and high school have come and gone, and you're still wondering how your little one grew so fast.

You remember having the “birds and bees” talk, and then came a few instances when you warned your kid about drugs or alcohol. Now little Johnny or Janie is about to go to college, and you're remembering the good and bad of your college experience.

Whether your kid attends college in state or leaves Utah, it’s important to have a few candid conversations before it’s time to start classes. Here are four topics you to cover with your kids before they head to college.

Dating

In today’s world of Tinder and the social media smorgasbord in front of your child, it’s important they set themselves up for healthy dating environments to try and avoid danger.

As you may imagine, sexual assault is a serious concern on college campuses, is often linked to alcohol and drugs and has a reputation of going unreported.

The good news is more students are reporting crimes than in previous years. This graph shows college students are reporting instances of sexual assault more than they ever have before.


 

To avoid dangerous situations, prevention is always the best cure. The Chief of Police at Southern Utah University, Rick Brown, suggests students be careful when they go on a date with someone they met online.

“Anybody can be anybody on social media,” Brown said. “Just because they sound wonderful and nice online doesn’t excuse you from taking precautionary measures when you meet them.”

Brown suggests having the first several dates in a public setting.

Theft

It may seem obvious, but the things you practiced at home growing up still apply in college. The simple stuff such as locking doors, avoiding being alone at night or in remote areas and not leaving stuff unattended goes a long way.

Brown said the most common crime he sees on campus is theft. People leave doors unlocked and leave laptops, phones and other devices unattended, and those things are stolen.

Remind your teens to pay attention to the details and practice what they’ve been taught since they were kids.

 

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Alcohol and drugs

Regardless of whether your children have grown up around alcohol, they will probably see more of it at college, even if they don't drink. From frat parties to impromptu hangouts, alcohol and drugs are common at many colleges, even in Utah.

Unchecked alcohol may lead to more than just a hangover and foggy memory — it could result in drunk driving, alcohol poisoning or an increased chance for sexual assault.

The most important thing you can do as a parent to protect your children from the dangers of drugs or alcohol is to talk openly about what they may encounter and the effects, and ultimately teach them to drink responsibly if they are going to drink.

Mental health check

Mental illness often goes undiagnosed and most commonly strikes in the form of depression. According to WebMD, “Depression doesn't have a single cause. Instead, it results from a mix of things: your genes, events in your past, your current circumstances, and more.”

College is one of the most exciting times in life and brings with it myriad changes in lifestyle — intense study, work and social pressure, just to name a few. Add living in a new place, changes in cash flow and more, and the struggle quickly escalates to more than just stress.

These elements often lead to some of the greatest growth your child will ever experience but, like an indicator light in a car that tells you when your engine is overheating, you want your child to recognize when something isn’t right before it gets worse. Teach your kids a few simple signs of depression before they leave for college.

As a parent, you want your kid to experience a safe environment, progress academically and professionally and enjoy college to the fullest. Help them choose a college that fits their needs and promotes a healthy lifestyle.