The tidal wave began in 1978. John Belushi chanting, “TOGA! TOGA! TOGA!” in National Lampoon’s “Animal House” ignited a litany of iconic scenes on movie screens over the years, each conveying a narrative of the ultimate partying experience in college.
From Will Ferrell exclaiming, “We’re going streaking!” in “Old School” to the newer generation of the stereotypical frat boy Stiffler in “American Pie 2″ or Fat Amy in “Pitch Perfect,” audiences nationwide soak in the drunken, boozy, wild parties that prospective college students have to look forward to or current students are, supposedly, experiencing. This cultural expectation is so pervasive that simply typing “Best College Party Movies” into Google yields an overwhelming six million hits.
Roughly two million students are expected to begin college this fall, representing the class of 2019. As parents of these incoming freshman are busy shopping for dorm room supplies and gathering together immunization records, I know they are also aware of these movie images of the hard partying college students. Some parents may consider it a rite of passage. Other parents might have had experiences not drastically different from Belushi or Stiffler….
So, what can parents do to prepare their rising freshman for the challenges of life away, independence, healthy eating, and attending class, as well as how to handle difficult decisions regarding alcohol? Here are three tips.
- Know the risks. Recognize that the first six weeks can be the highest-risk time period for freshmen.
- Be clear. Set your expectations for their freshman year with them, communicate clearly and ask their plans for getting involved with activities and events on campus. Further, be prepared for difficult conversations.
- Stay in touch. Consider checking in more frequently during those first six weeks than you might otherwise.
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