As a parent, some of the greatest joys in life are getting to watch your child grow into the person they were meant to be and witnessing their accomplishments… like, graduating and going to college!


Sending your child to college is a significant milestone. While this new journey can be daunting, it’s important to remember that college is more than just four years of higher education. It’s a gateway to once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, personal growth, and multiple new skills.


You can help make the transition less stressful by preparing your child for academic, social, and emotional challenges they may face in the process.  Here are some tips to help you and your child prepare for their new home away from home and to ensure they are set up for success.


Take A Campus Tour

If you haven’t already, be sure to take a walk around campus. Many colleges have summer orientation which is a great opportunity for your teen to familiarize themselves with the campus. These visits will be especially beneficial if they already have their class schedule, as walking around the campus to check out each building where classes will be held can help your new student feel more confident on their first day of school.


Find A Place to Live

Work with your teen to secure a place to live. Many colleges require incoming freshman to live on campus for their first year. However, if they do not have to, work with your child to help them secure a safe and affordable place to live either on or off campus. If your teen has a roommate, this is also a great opportunity for them to connect and get to know them better.


Educate them on Money Management

Talk to your teenager about finances and how to be responsible with money while they’re away. Now that your child will have more freedom, educating them on the importance of financial responsibility can help keep them out of unnecessary debt. The summer before college is a great time to start teaching them the basics of budgeting and saving money. If they don’t already have one, have them open a checking account and get a debit card so they have access to their money. For emergencies, consider having your child apply for a student credit card. These often have low credit limits and are great to have available in the event of an emergency.


Share Some Life Skills

Teaching your child life skills such as cooking, doing laundry, checking the oil in their car, etc. can help make their transition to college life less stressful. Work with your child to equip them with as many life skills as possible before they go off to college. This is also a great opportunity to bond more with your child before they step into a world of their own.


Plan a Closet Clean Out

The summer before attending college is the perfect time to encourage your child to do a closet clean out. Unfortunately, your child will not be able to take everything they own to college with them. However, by doing a closet clean out, they’ll get a better idea as to what they already have. This can make packing for college easier and more organized.


Communicate the Importance of Time Management

The time leading up to college is a great time to teach your child about effective time management. While you’ve been responsible for ensuring they get up on time and make all of their appointments, the months before college are a great time to take a step back and allow them the opportunity to manage those things on their own. This is a great opportunity for your child to have a small glimpse at what being on their own could be like.


Discuss Work and Social Needs

College is a great opportunity for your child to discover more about themselves and shape them into who they want to be. Talk to them about the various clubs, organizations, and other opportunities available on campus they may want to participate in to meet like-minded individuals. Share with them the importance of building a network and how this can benefit them in the future both personally and professionally. If the college your child is attending holds a fair for incoming freshman to discover the campus clubs and organizations, encourage them to attend. This is always a great way to meet new people and discover what they might be interested in, as well as, possibly providing unique experiences that may benefit them in their future.

When it comes to your credit score, there’s almost always room for improvement. If you’ve pulled your score and you’re not satisfied with the number you received, there are several strategies to boost it. But first, you need a little insight into how that score is calculated.

Five major categories are used to determine your credit score which are reported to the credit bureaus by your lenders to generate scores ranging from 350 to 850 (higher is better, of course).

Each category is weighed differently. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • 40% is based on your payment history, and whether you pay on time.
  • 23% is your credit utilization. Also known as credit usage, it’s the ratio between the total balance you owe and your total credit limit on your accounts. It’s best to keep your credit utilization below 30 percent — this is because if you are consistently maxing out your credit cards, it’ll look like you need money in the eyes of a lender.
  • 21% is the age and type of credit you have. This percentage factors in how long you’ve had different kinds of credit accounts open. The older and more diverse (auto, mortgage, credit card) your credit is, the better.
  • 11% is based on your total amount of recently reported balances on your credit accounts. You’ll want to keep your balances generally low because that’ll suggest to lenders that you are capable of making your payments on time.
  • 5% is based on recent credit applications. Opening multiple credit accounts in a short period of time could represent a greater risk for lenders — multiple recent inquiries may worry lenders that you are applying to so many places because you are unable to qualify for credit — or because you need money in a pinch — so avoid opening too many accounts too quickly. (You don’t have to worry about this if you’re shopping for a mortgage or car loan. All inquiries within 14 days count as a single one.)



  1. Pull your credit reports. The three major credit scoring bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian will each allow you one free copy of your report each week. You also have access to your report and score daily through the United Fidelity Bank app. If you choose to get a copy directly from the credit scoring bureaus and you find an error on your report, you should dispute it as soon as possible. Simple mistakes – the wrong address or a misspelling of your name – can be fixed by calling the creditor and asking for an update. If they won’t oblige, or the error is more complicated, you should dispute directly with the credit bureaus. You can do this online.
  2. Pay your bills on time. One day late is still considered late, and just one late payment can lower your score. Consider using an online bill payment service, like Bill Pay, to stay on track with your payments.
  3. Pay down credit card debt. You don’t want to be using more than 30% of the total credit available to you. Keeping your utilization well below that (closer to 10%) can give your score a boost.
  4. Hang onto old cards. Your credit score benefits from long relationships with lenders, so cut them up, but don’t cancel them if you can help it.
  5. Be thoughtful about shopping for new credit. Every time you apply for a new card or loan, the lender takes a peek at your credit history, which dings your score.
  6. Spread your debts around. The mix of credit you have in your file—mortgages, student loans, auto loans, credit cards—shows that you can manage debt from multiple sources.


Remember that time – and patience – are key. You shouldn’t expect a change overnight, but you will see improvement over the course of 12 to 18 months – shorter, if your score is already fairly high and you’re just looking for a bit of a jump.


Article by SavvyMoney contributor Jean Chatzky.