Going off to college is an exciting time, but it can also be very stressful. There are a lot of important decisions for kids to make at that time, perhaps the most crucial being: where will he or she live? As a parent, it's your job to help them make a decision they'll be comfortable with, but not to decide on their behalf. If you're a parent whose first child is heading off to college, this article should help you guide your child without being the heavy handed parent who steps in and lays down the law.

Determine Needs

This is likely your child's first foray into living like a grownup, so make sure the two of you sit down and talk over what this involves. Your child may be dead set on finding something from the listings, but a quick outline the child's budget will nip that in the bud. Help her make a list of what she needs from a living space, such as room to do homework, walking distance to class, a roommate, the level of noise in the building, a cafeteria nearby, and so on.

Many parents like idea of buying a home in the college town, and setting the child up as landlord, with other students paying rent to help cover the mortgage. This can be a great investment, but there are many other considerations to take into account, not the least of which is whether or not you can attract the right tenants. You can learn more about the caveats of this plan by talking to a local experienced professional. For example, if you lived in the city of Mississauga, you would speak with real estate brokers in Mississauga.

Take the Child for Visits

Preferably while you're doing your campus tour, take your child to see with his own eyes the residences that he will have to choose from if he decides to live on campus. Residence rooms come in all shapes, sizes, and configurations. He might think a party dorm is great until he sees the state it's in, or think co-ed is neat until he discovers that the cafeteria is 3 blocks away from the rooms. Off campus housing may be his or her preference instead.

Encourage Deliberation

Don't let your child make a snap decision based on what she sees in a single visit or what one brochure tells her. Return to your home and sleep on it. Encourage her to look on the university message boards, to talk to people who have lived in the residence before, and to think it over from all angles before deciding. Party dorms might seem fun for the five minutes she was visiting, but can she handle living like that 24/7?

Let the Child Decide

Ultimately, though, it must be the child that decides. As much as you would like to see your boy living in a dorm where everyone is as quiet as a church mouse and studies all the time, it is his life. He will be unhappy if you guilt or browbeat him into acquiescing to your preferences when he would rather live in a townhouse with a host of other soccer players, hosting parties and not washing their laundry. If he ends up learning a lesson, that's one more step toward adulthood.

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