Protecting Your (New) College Student

September is right around the corner. Please take a minute to protect your new college student and their family. Negotiating the deposit, reserving the dorm room, and calculating financing of the remaining balance are all top of mind for new and returning college-bound students.

As students transition from high school to college, many will be turning 18 years of age —a milestone in their lives and a new designation in the eyes of colleges and universities, adults.

Our children will always remain young at heart, but when they turn 18 years of age, the rules change, especially in the eyes of the medical and legal system. An eighteen-year-old becomes responsible for their own medical and legal care as well as other consumer actions. As students move onto college campuses, travel to and from, and begin to live independently of their parents, legal and medical documentation is need for parents to remain part of the conversation.

Four documents needed before a student settles in this September are:

  1. FERPER Agreement – signed by the student and parent(s) annually; this document permits school administrators to speak with parents for student needs associated with academic, housing, campus life infractions, and public safety, and more.
  2. HIPAA Authorization Form – allows a physician to speak with a parent regarding a student’s medical condition.
  3. Healthcare Power of Attorney – beyond a HIPAA Agreement, if a student cannot communicate due to temporary incapacitation, a parent would need a Healthcare power of attorney to act on behalf of the student.
  4. General Durable Power of Attorney – acting on behalf of a loved one to manage their finances, pay bills, and assist in matters beyond healthcare.

For parents caring for those parents, the elderly, these last three documents are standard but hold an equally important place in the lives of college-age students.

Check with your Family Law Attorney to learn more on how to obtain these vital documents.

In addition, immunization records must be current, including all vaccinations and now  COVID-19 for the Fall. Check with the college to determine if they have a specific form that a student’s primary care doctor must complete before arriving on campus. Medical records take time, don’t wait.

Up-to-date passports (study abroad), car. property, and liability insurance policies should all be reviewed to protect students and their families.

Finally, as I did with my four college-age children, I encourage all parents to have a frank and honest conversation about drinking, drugs, and sex. There is no denying it. On average, over 1800 freshmen nationally dies within the first 180 days of stepping on a college campus due to alcohol-related deaths.

Sending an 18-19-year-old young mind off to college can be like opening up the barn door and letter the horses run free. Help your college-age student have a safe and successful college career.

For more information on these and other college planning needs, please feel free to contact me, Tom O’Hare at Get College Going



High school seniors are anxiously awaiting the finish line. Twelve years of studies, homework, and activities from 7:15 AM to 2:15 PM are coming to an end. Next for many will be college, work, internships, volunteer work, and service.

At the same time, college graduates begin to embrace their next move; graduate schools, two-year to four-year, upskilling, and of course joining the workforce.

The late Spring and early summer months are exciting times for young emerging minds.

For parents of rising juniors (2023) and seniors (2022), your work doesn’t end as the summer approaches. Yes, we all look forward to the beach, time off for good behavior, and maybe even a slower pace, but the summer is a pivotal time to stay on track to hit Fall deadlines and complete essential tasks.

7 Common College Miscues

1. Allowing a 17-Year- Old to Make $250K Financial Decisions
Attending college after high school is an investment. Too often, I find parents allowing their DS or DD to be the sole manager of their process. Parents need to work with their students to set realistic goals and expectations, learn about financing capabilities, and share tasks and calendar deadlines.

2. Believing that a 4 Year College is for Everyone
Yes, learning is timeless, lifelong, but for many, it calls for different pathways. Parents of middle and high school, don’t panic if the idea of a skilled profession or work than college is the path being considered. Education pathways should be individualized based on the interest, goals, and strengths of the student.

3. Shopping Before Budgeting
What is our financing capability? Debt tolerance? Learn the rules, how colleges set costs, award aid, and recruit students using their money. Like when buying a first home, it is critical to understand what we can afford.

4. Waiting for Colleges to Offer an Invite
It is exciting to see the mailbox fill up with college brochures and viewbooks, but it’s not recruitment. Students need to raise their hands, identify their interests and promote their individual talents and interest. Writing a strong essay, communicating (text, call, email), visit, and filling a timely application are all keys to demonstrating a desire to enroll.

5. Missing the Importance of Creating a High School Resume
Tracking accomplishments, achievements, and personal growth during high school make completing an accurate college application seamless.

6. Assuming There is Plenty of Financial Aid for Everyone
Colleges, universities, government, and private providers have limited merit scholarships, grants, and need-based available to new and returning students. Don’t delay and always file the FAFSA.

7. Creating an Unrealistic List of College Options
Cast a broad net to learn what schools are looking for your DD or DS, their strengths and interests. Consider a less known brand or one not on the national ranking lists. Don’t just chase.


At the core, every family should approach the college process with a comprehensive plan. It should be based on goals and expectations, academic, personal, and financial. A good plan offers the guidance and direction needed to find the right education, for the right reason, at the right school for the right price.

Don’t have a plan or wish to have a check-up, we’ll provide a free review and offer out best practice suggestions for a successful college journey!

Consult an Independent College Counselor

Need help calming the waters, getting started, or just answering questions. An experienced independent college counselor can help parents help their students. They listen, focus on needs and expectations, and help students manage a realistic and holistic college plan. Plus, you get the peace of mind that a professional is on the team 100% of the time.

Tom O’Hare is the Founder of Get College Going, a North Shore-based full-service college counseling practice with resources to assist parents, students, and individuals before, during, and after college. 

Have a questions, schedule a free consultation or obtain your free Comprehensive College Guide at

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