The time has come! Your kid is getting ready to spread their wings and fly off to college. It’s a mix of excitement, anxiety, and a little bit of fear of the unknown. 

Let’s talk about what students should keep in mind when leaving for college—the skills they’ll need, what to expect, and how to prepare. 

 Skills to Pack in the College Bag 

1. Time Management: College life is a fast-paced adventure with classes, assignments, social events, and maybe even a part-time job. And they will not have mommies and daddies there to manage their schedules. Managing time effectively is essential. Encourage your child to use to-do lists, planners, or apps to schedule their days. Learning to prioritize tasks and meet deadlines will save them from last-minute stress.

2. Basic Cooking Skills: Knowing how to cook a few basic meals can be a lifesaver. Sure, the dining hall is there, but sometimes a home-cooked meal is just what they need. Have them learn how to make simple dishes like pasta, stir-fry, grilled veggies or chicken, basic dal rice, and an omelet. Let them know how the kitchen gadgets—the oven, blender, air fryer, and toaster—work. They’ll thank you later!

new college students

3. Money Management: Handling money wisely is a critical skill. Budgeting, the importance of saving, digital payments, and the dangers of credit cards are some of the essentials that they must know. Maybe we should even set up a simple budget plan together. They’ll need to manage their finances, including tuition, books, food, and fun. We had our children plan their weekly budgets for boarding, dine-out meals, and pocket money. We reviewed the amount after the first semester and revised it as needed. They had to keep an account to justify the increase, if any.

4. Laundry: It sounds basic, but many students head to college without knowing how to do laundry. Show them how to sort clothes, choose the right settings on the washer, and avoid shrinking their favorite sweater. It’s a small thing that can make a big difference.

5. Stand up for themselves: College students must know how to speak up for themselves. Whether it’s asking for help in a class, seeking mental health support, or dealing with a roommate issue, knowing how to advocate for themselves is essential. Encourage them to ask questions and seek out resources.

 What to Expect on Campus 

1. Newfound Independence: College is often the first time students are away from home. This newfound freedom is thrilling but can also be overwhelming. Expect a learning curve as they figure out how to balance their independence with responsibility as they enter adulthood.

2. Diverse Community: Colleges are melting pots of cultures, ideas, and personalities. This diversity is fantastic for broadening horizons, but it can also be challenging. Encourage your child to be open-minded, respectful, and curious about different perspectives.

new college students

3. Academic Challenges: College coursework is a step up from high school. Expect more rigorous assignments, complex projects, and a faster pace. Remind your student that it’s okay to seek help—tutoring centers, study groups, and support groups are there for a reason.

4. Social Opportunities: From clubs and organizations to sports and social events, there’s no shortage of activities. Encourage your child to get involved, make new friends, and build a support network. It’s all part of the college experience.

5. Homesickness: Feeling homesick is normal. Remind your child that it’s okay to miss home and that it usually gets better with time. Encourage them to stay in touch with family and friends but also to immerse themselves in campus life.

How to Prepare Before Leaving 

1. Research and Visit:  If possible, visit the campus beforehand, even if virtually. Familiarize yourself with the layout, find key buildings, and get a feel for the environment. Researching online can also provide valuable insights into campus life and resources. Attend the orientation sessions.

2. Pack Smart:Make a checklist of essentials. Pack smart—don’t overpack, but don’t forget the essentials like bedding, toiletries, and a few personal items that remind them of home. A well-packed bag can make the transition smoother. And let them pack so they know where it is.

new college students

3. Health Preparations:Ensure your child knows where the campus health center is and how to access healthcare services. Pack a basic first-aid kit, and make sure they have any necessary medications. Health should always be a priority.

4.Set Up Communication Plans : Discuss how you’ll stay in touch. Regular calls, video chats, or even scheduled visits can help ease the transition. Knowing they’ll have a support system back home can be very comforting.

5. Mental Preparation:Talk about the emotional aspects of leaving home. Discuss their fears and expectations, and reassure them that it’s okay to feel a mix of emotions. Encourage them to stay positive and remind them that it’s a big, exciting step forward.

For Students Still Preparing for College 

For the future college-goers: If you’re still in high school and dreaming about college, now’s the time to start preparing.

  • Focus on your academics because strong grades open more doors.
  • Get involved in clubs, sports teams, or volunteer organizations to show colleges you’re well-rounded and engaged in your community.
  • Start researching potential colleges, looking into their programs, campus life, and application requirements, and try to visit campuses and talk to current students.
  • Prepare for standardized tests like the SAT or ACT by taking practice tests and considering prep courses.
  • Build your resume with activities that showcase your skills and passions, whether it’s a part-time job, an internship, or a personal project.
  • Finally, seek guidance from your school counselor, teachers, and mentors, as they can offer valuable advice and support throughout the college application process.

Heading off to college is a milestone step, both for students and their families. It’s a time of growth, learning, and self-discovery. While the journey might be challenging, it’s also incredibly rewarding. Equip your child with the right skills, prepare them for what’s to come, and offer your unwavering support. And for those still preparing, start laying the groundwork now.

Here’s to all the future college students—go forth and conquer!

Let’s support our kids together!

This article is by Richa Dwivedi Saklani, Founder and Principal Counselor, Inomi Learning and Anjana Anand, Principal Counselor, Inomi Learning


Richa is a mom of two college-going kids, filling her new-found time with learning the piano, playing chess and enjoying reading with a book club. She is the author of “The Ultimate Guide to 21st Century Careers”


 Anjana Anand, a mom of two grown-ups, has spent over 28 years working with kids and teens in India, Singapore, and Bangladesh. She loves helping students navigate new cultural experiences, find their own paths, and pick up essential life skills like self-awareness, critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, and compassion.

When she’s not busy mentoring, you’ll find Anjana running marathons, getting lost in a good book, writing, or diving into spirituality. She’s also the author-mentor of “The Visage Unmasked,” India’s first teen co-authored book.