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September 5, 2012

Your Child Is Away At College. How Will You Keep In Touch?

Back in the day when I attended college, keeping in touch with my parents was simple.  I had a phone in my dorm room that I called them on or they called me on. We tried not to stay on the phone all that long since we were charged by message units which was related to both distance and time on the phone. I went to college in Manhattan and my parents lived in Massapequa which is on Long Island. There was also the occasional letter. Those students whose parents lived out of town had a different issue that some of us chronologically gifted people may know as long distance charges. Some dorms did not have phones in their rooms but there was a payphone in the hall. That created a different issue of trying to keep the call short since you may not have had much change, collect call charges could be expensive and there may have been a line to use the phone.

Today things are totally different.  Almost all college students have cell phones and there is Skype and iChat for video conferences.  The cell phone provider you use at home may not have a strong signal where your child is at school. As a parent, it may be worthwhile for you to change cellphone providers or it may be more beneficial for your college student to get a cell phone plan of their own with a provider that has good cell phone reception at their school.

There is also video chatting. Skype and iChat are the two big ones here.  We’ll keep our discussion to Skype as this works on both PC and Macs.  iChat is a proprietary program that only works on Apple products. With Skype you can talk to anyone, anytime, anywhere, any length for free provided you are speaking with someone who is also using Skype. The only charge would be for internet connection fees if any. This is just like at home.

One other possibility to think about is Magic Jack.  For a $70.00 initial investment and a $30.00 annual subscription you can make unlimited calls to the USA and Canada from anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection.

You will or should be having discussions with your college child about the new experiences they will be having. You also will need to also discuss how you will be communicating with him or her while they are away. Will their college friends be using the same cell phone provider? Will you and your child have the same cell phone provider?  If an emergency was to arise how will you get in touch?

Regardless of what plan you choose, your student should also bring an Ethernet cord with them.  If your student lives in a dorm where there is an Ethernet connection you and them will be glad particularly if the Ethernet connection is the only way for them to connect to the internet.

If you have additional questions about keeping in touch with your college child I can be reached at (917) 572-3468 or email me at

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