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A Higher Education: 8 Steps to Prepare Your Teen for College

Your kids got their acceptance letters; congrats! Now it's time to ensure they're ready to be on their own. Use our guide to nurture their growing independence in the months before they leave home.

By Alison Goldman

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Chow Down Challenges

Arm your teen against the dreaded "freshman fifteen" by reinforcing healthy habits like a balanced diet and exercise. The weight issues often starts with how students schedule their eating, says Sarah Van Orman, MD, Executive Director of University Health Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Kids often skip healthy meals and then eat a lot at once at night or when they're studying." High-fat and high-sugar foods like pizza, chips, and candy don't just pack on pounds—they also affect mood and energy level, says Dr. Van Orman. Encourage your teen to eat within a couple of hours of getting up, and to visit the dining hall salad and fruit bar daily. Also encourage her to build in meal breaks when she picks her course schedule. And when you put together care packages, forgo sweets (or at choose healthier versions like whole-grain cookies) and include light popcorn, instant oatmeal, dried fruit, and nuts instead.

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