Preparing Your Student for Campus Life

Considerations for Specific Students: Do Any of These Apply to Your Student?

Colleges and universities have a diverse student body, and your student may have needs that are different from those of the general student population. Campuses typically provide resources to support their many different students. Learn about resources that may be provided and be sure to check with your student’s school to see what is provided.

Leave of Absence and Hardship Withdrawal

A leave of absence or hardship withdrawal may be necessary if your student experiences an emergency and they are unable to complete classes. Refer to the institution’s website for specific policies and guidelines regarding how your student may qualify and how they can initiate a leave of absence or hardship withdrawal.
Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances (that can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years) that may necessitate a leave of absence or hardship withdrawal from the college or university. Reasons can include medical conditions, death in the family, or other emergencies. When students experience medical or mental health complications that significantly interfere with their academic and personal goals, they may request a medical temporary leave. 

When to Consider Taking a Leave of Absence or Hardship Withdrawal

Your student may want to consider this kind of leave if:

  • Your student feels they are in crisis or that their level of distress is becoming intolerable.
  • Your student believes the stress and pressure of college is seriously disrupting their ability to focus on recovery.
  • Your student feels they need an increased level of care.
  • Your student is not able to access the services needed at their college or university.
  • Your student feels that time away from classes would be beneficial for their long-term well-being.

This may be a decision that you and your student make together.

Learn the first steps for requesting a leave of absence here.

Often, students who are granted a temporary leave may not take courses at another college or university during the leave period unless they are granted permission.

Your student’s school may also have instructions for how to return after a leave of absence. For example, if a student leaves for medical or health reasons, their institution may want to see documentation from a health care provider saying that they are able to return to school.

The involuntary leave process may be initiated when the institution feels a student is engaging in behaviors that may cause injury to others. This can include physical and psychological conditions.

Example School Sites:
University of North Georgia: Hardship Withdrawal
American University: Taking a Medical Temporary Leave 

Tuition Refund Insurance

Most colleges and universities do not provide tuition refunds if a leave of absence is requested after the typical refund period, so you may want to consider purchasing tuition refund insurance. This insurance must be purchased at the beginning of the school year and refunds the financial losses when a student can’t complete an academic term due to a serious covered injury or illness (such as mononucleosis or a severe head injury), a chronic illness, or a psychological disorder. Your student’s school may offer a policy, or you can seek out your own coverage. Refer to the institution’s website for specific information regarding tuition refund insurance.

That said, check with your student’s institution about their tuition refund policy. Some schools may provide a tuition refund after the typical refund period. Often a student will need to request this and the consideration will be made by the appropriate staff or administrator.


Mental Health America Taking a Leave of Absence: What You Need to Know
Tuition Insurance: Here’s How it Works 
Consumer Reports: Should You Buy Tuition Insurance?

Dining Options and Eating Well

What Dining Options Are Available?

If your student will not be living at home for their college years, they will need to learn to manage their meals on their own. Managing meals and eating well can provide new experiences for college students, who may not have done a lot of cooking or meal planning when they lived at home. Your on-campus student can learn more about meal plans and dining hall tips here.

Food Allergies and Other Dietary Considerations

If your student has food allergies, religion-based dietary considerations, celiac disease, gastrointestinal sensitivity, philosophical preferences, or is just plain picky, they may find it extra challenging to figure out the best ways to eat on campus. This may vary by campus, though; some schools are offering meals and designing dining halls to meet the needs of students with food allergies or restrictions. Learn more about helping your student manage their dietary considerations here. You can also encourage your student to check with dining services about what options are available to meet their specific needs.

Eating Well 

For wellness to be part of your student’s daily life, they will need to know how to eat well on campus. To learn more and discuss healthy eating with your student, go here.

Preparing and Shopping for Food

If your student plans to do their own cooking some or all of the time, encourage them to follow these tips when planning what to make and what to shop for. You can also coach your student on grocery shopping before they leave. Help them learn meal prepping and shopping on a budget.

Eating Better on a Tight Budget

Eating nutritiously is possible, no matter what your student’s budget may be. Try some of these ideas and check with the campus health center or dining services for more tips.

Healthy Snacking

Discuss with your student how to incorporate healthy snacks into their day. What will their day of meals and snacks look like? Eating every 3–5 hours is a good way to prevent overeating at meal times, as well as keep their metabolism and energy level high. Work with your student to stock their minifridge with healthy snacks by helping them choose healthy snacks to eat and have on hand.

Whether your student will be dining on campus or making their own meals, here are some tips to help them navigate their options and maintain a healthy diet.

What About Health Insurance?

Will your student need health insurance or can they stay on your plan? Read about the options here

Housing Options on and Off Campus

Your student may have a variety of living options from which to choose, both on and off campus. So much of the college experience happens outside of the classroom, and their living situation is no exception. Read here to learn about housing options in college, as well as how to maximize your experience.

What will your student need to bring with them? Read about it here.

What else is important for you to discuss with your student before they leave? Some important things to discuss include living with a roommate and managing relationships.