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Your parents barely stopped the car when they dropped you off at college with nothing but a suitcase and a well wish. But holy smokes, the times—and the collegiate landscape—have certainly changed. Today’s incoming freshmen are met with higher tuitions, super-fancy dorms and way more curriculum options (like studying abroad in Ghana or taking classes on the organic food industry). We’ve teamed up with IKEA to give you the seven questions to ask your freshman to make sure he or she is ready for the big, bad world….or just the dining hall.

1. Do You Know What to Do If You Get Sick?

Yay, dorm life. New friends all living together… in close quarters that are not cleaned nearly enough and are rife with germs. The average freshman can get sick up to three times in their first 30 days of college alone. New coeds need to be ready to navigate the wellness world, often for the very first time. A good preparedness plan is to have an organized medicine cabinet like the SILVERAN mirrored cabinet from IKEA, stocked with vitamins, prescribed meds, first-aid essentials, basic drugstore remedies and a list of nearby doctors.

2. Do You Remember Those Sleepovers You Had When You Were Nine?

For many coeds, living in a 228-square-foot dorm room with a total stranger is enough to send them reeling. Experts agree that turning a cookie-cutter space into something more homey and inviting (think hanging RAMSTA string lights and colorful SILVERBUSKE curtains from IKEA) is not just fluff work but vital in helping students transition more smoothly. Kids today are shrewdly using shared Pinterest boards to design their living spaces even before meeting their new roommate. So when they position the purchase of the MOSSFLOX duvet cover and pillowcases from IKEA as life changing, they’re kind of right.

3. Do You Know How to Use a Washing Machine?

Each fall, Reddit, the social hub that seems to have a question and answer to any of life’s major and minor conundrums, sees an influx of laundry-related queries. The reason? Millions of college freshmen are at a total loss on how to use a washing machine. Think about all that wasted support (and free laundry services) for parents who could have spent the summer teaching their kiddos what to do. Start their training with the FYLLEN laundry basket from IKEA, and make sure the girls have a FROST drying rack for all those delicate tops they love so much.

4. Do You Know What Happens If You Go into Debt? (Cue Scary Music)

Chances are they’re well versed in Venmo, but they still need to know the basics of proper money management. Skip the checkbook balancing, though, and go over how to manage their accounts online. It’s also a good time to really get into the weeds about how a credit card can benefit them (points, fraud safety, building credit) and how it can hurt them if it’s misused (debt and late fees, y’all). Tracking spending online won’t feel like such a burden when they can do so from the comfort of their own bed, thanks to the BRADA laptop support from IKEA.

5. Are You Hungry?

Dining halls were necessary when on-campus housing didn’t come with fully equipped kitchens, but in 2016, most new dorms are essentially apartments, where cooking is actually feasible. Help them figure out several simple go-to recipes that are quick, full of brain food and big in portion size so that leftovers (a college kid’s best friend) can be stored for later. The PRUTA food container set from IKEA is an absolute must for any college kitchen.

6. Are You Scared?

While they might drone on about how ready for “freedom” they are, don’t be fooled. Going away to college actually scares the pants off most kids. Common concerns among new freshmen are being smart enough, making friends, handling the party scene, covering costs and surviving without their families. Go over smart habits, assure them that college is basically designed for them to meet people (the Org Fair is a must-do) and reassure them that college is a safety net for making mistakes without too much harm done. 


7. But Are You Excited?

College goes by in a flash, and the best thing you can do is be supportive. Encourage them to gallivant around Europe on a study-abroad trip, to take an offbeat class about “The Cultural History of Japanese Monsters” (yes, this exists) and to make lifelong friends.

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