Preparing your teen for college by fostering independence

Teen College Prep

College is a major transition for all young adults. Your kids have to learn how to live away from home while taking classes, meeting new people, and adjusting to a new city. 

As a parent, you can help prepare your teen for college by fostering independence in the safety of your home. Even small changes, like having them cook some of their own meals, can pay off in the future when they have to provide for themselves. 

This will help them build important life skills and give them all the tools they need to find success during their college years. 

Transport and cars

Learning to drive is a major achievement for many teens. Driving gives your kid the ability to go where they want whenever they want. However, many young adults don’t actually feel comfortable behind the wheel — even if they have their license. 

Help your child feel safe by choosing the right car for your teen. The right car can help instill a sense of independence and will keep your kid safe while they’re on the road. Look for a vehicle that has extra safety features like collision warnings, reverse cameras, or lane-departure warnings. These additional features will give teens a sense of confidence and help them learn from their mistakes on the road. 

If your teen is planning on attending a city campus, they’ll likely use public transport to get around. However, hopping on the subway for the first time can be anxiety-inducing for the uninitiated. If possible, plan a few trips to prospective campuses before your teen sends in their applications. Tour the grounds using the public transport available and try to figure it out together. This will give teens experience with the travel network and give them confidence when it’s time to move out. 

Financial independence

Financial literacy is a widely undervalued skill in society. Few students take financial literacy classes, and most people just have to learn as they go along. You can give your child a helping hand by giving them limited financial independence during their teenage years. 

Show your child how you manage your finances, and tell them why they need to create emergency funds before they start spending on items they want. You can also direct them to the FDIC website where they can learn about the importance of saving, investing, and building credit. You can also co-sign for them so they can apply for a small credit card. This way, they can build their credit early, and get some practice with some of the responsibilities associated with it — like paying it off regularly — without digging themselves too deep of a hole.

Include your teen when discussing college-related financial plans. University is expensive, and few families can afford to pay for fees upfront. Show your child how you plan to pay for college tuition and openly discuss the importance of student loans, earning potential estimations, and credit checks. 


Most teens don’t feel ready for college and don’t feel confident about completing tasks related to healthcare. This shouldn’t come as a major surprise, as insurance policies and healthcare coverage can be a complicated matter. 

Start by teaching your teen the basics of medication. Every teen should know how to set up a healthcare appointment and should feel confident when speaking on the phone to healthcare professionals. Your teen should also know how to request repeat prescriptions and should be able to self-advocate while in the doctor’s office. 

Avoid the temptation to take over if you see your teen struggling to make an appointment or speak clearly with healthcare professionals. You may need to step in at some point, but they should gain experience while you’re still around to help out. 

Remind your teen that you’re there for them if even they have an issue that may be considered “embarrassing”. Many young adults forgo the medical attention they need due to shame or fears about their privacy. Reaffirm that you’re there to support them at all times — your unwavering support can help teens build confidence and foster their own independence in time. 

Moving day 

Moving day is a tricky time for a parent. You’ll likely have mixed emotions as you help your child move out and explore the wider world. However, you can help your teen prepare for the day by involving them whenever you have to move house as a family. 

Make the move easier by avoiding common moving mistakes. Don’t procrastinate and choose reliable movers that meet your specifications. Keep a few essential items with you, as you don’t want to dig through boxes while looking for medication or valuables. 

Help your teen foster independence by setting them up for success before you leave. Buy a few essential household items like toilet rolls, cleaning supplies, and spare lights. Your child will be busy enough with classes and could use a helping hand during their first few months away from home. 


Most teenagers don’t feel ready for the independence that comes with college life. You can help them feel more confident by involving them by teaching them the basics of medication and involving them in college-related financial planning. When the big day comes, try to set them up for success by packing well ahead of time and purchasing a few essential items for their new accommodation. 

Author: Charlie Fletcher 

Photo: Unsplash