This post is sponsored by Liberty Mutual Insurance. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

It was a year ago. One whole year ago when I sent my oldest son, Christian, off to college.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

One year that he has been living in his own apartment, in a completely different state, experiencing the ups and downs of adulthood and college life.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

It was a major adjustment for his younger brother and me when he packed up his things and hit the road to Florida from Oklahoma.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

There were many tears and phone calls to him during the transition. It’s still difficult at times seeing his empty bedroom in the house.

To keep us strong, we all had to remember the bigger picture: Christian was following a passion for music by attending the school of his dreams.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

That was an incredible gift for him, for us, so we needed to be strong and brave through it. We are still practicing this mindset when we get those pangs of missing each other.

A year later, there is so much that I’ve learned as a parent of a college student. I’m sharing a few pieces of that knowledge today in hopes that it can help you prepare for that big day.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

3 Things I Didn’t Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

1. Unexpected Costs

Even with full scholarships, financial aid, or college trusts, there are costs that arise which are not covered by these plans and have to come out of somebody’s pocket.

A few of these costs may include:

  • gas for vehicle
  • auto insurance for the vehicle
  • medical/vision insurance with out of pocket expenses
  • furnishing a dorm/apartment
  • supplying a dorm/apartment with small appliances, electronics, etc.
  • some food

College students can certainly off-set the burden of these unexpected costs, but this can also interfere with their studies, good grades, and emotional well-being. Each family has different needs and abilities, so this is a very personal decision that requires prepared budgets and big decision-making.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

2. Tuition Insurance

Did you know that Tuition Insurance exists? It absolutely does and it’s a very smart idea indeed, especially with the huge financial investment that college brings.

Tuition Insurance is sold through LibertyMutual Insurance, which helps protect your family’s significant investment in higher education for undergrads or grad students should a student need to unexpectedly withdraw. It is easy to sign up and affordable. It only costs 1% of the total tuition cost.

Some institutions offer limited or no reimbursement options, but Tuition Insurance allows students and parents to customize their coverage to only pay for what they need (i.e. purchasing a whole year or per semester).

Tuition Insurance provides reimbursement for unforeseen accidents, illnesses and other covered reasons that cause a student to unexpectedly need to withdraw from school. Students who withdraw mid-term often do so during a time of crisis or emergency, and having a policy in place ensures that your family won’t need to worry about the financial strain of lost tuition. Schools typically offer limited refunds after classes begin and will provide no refunds after a certain date (varies by school). Tuition Insurance just needs to be purchased before the first day of classes to offer protection for the entire semester or year.

It’s easy to sign up – visit http://bit.ly/2Z6ASiB where you can go online to get a quote by answering just a few short questions.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

3. The Importance of Good Communication

When you first drop off your student at college, they have stars in their eyes. You have stars in your eyes. It’s an exciting time!

Then, weeks go by and the stars start fading a bit because the reality of the incredible work rears its head and the heart tugs of missing your kid really start to hurt. This is a period where it can be easy to throw in the towel, for both the student and the parents. This is also a time where grades can start slipping and a loss of momentum can begin. I say all of these from my own experience of going through it. It’s absolutely normal and from my conversations with other parents, common.

The solution? Regular communication. Not just a “how was class today?” kind of communication, either, but an honest and transparent one. Questions like, “What are you struggling with the most right now?” or “How are you feeling emotionally right now?” get to the root of what life really feels like for your child in this new world.

Chats like these are also important when it comes to the incredible financial investment we’re making for our kids. We want to keep them safe and well on this journey and communicating about the hard along with the good is important to keep morale up and momentum strong. It also alerts us when our children may need medical or mental health care, or possibly some time off from school.

Make those calls important ones. Even when calls aren’t coming in (teenagers have a knack for doing that). Send those text messages. Any form of communication that you can find that works, do it.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

Today, Christian is 19 and thriving in school. His love of music has expanded even more than before, and his opportunities in life are now endless. That in itself makes every single bit of sacrifice, commitment, and investment worth it.

3 Things I Didn't Know When I Sent My Kid Off to College

Christian wrote this song shortly after he moved into his college apartment last year. It’s a song about leaving home, discovering himself, and flying. When I listen to it, I am reminded, once again, of his calling, strength, and beauty. This is what parenting is all about if you ask me. 🙌🏻