When parents send their kids to college, moms and dads usually talk to them about two things: doing their laundry and getting good grades.
While both of those are important, there are some other key skills students should have to live on their own for the first time -- among them are how to use a credit card, how to make and keep an appointment and how to make a well-reasoned argument.
Do try to communicate with your roommate before the school year starts. You might even start to throw decoration ideas around.
Don't base your opinion of your roommate on his or her Facebook page alone. His online identity probably does not give an accurate reflection of the well-rounded person he might be. Just take a look at your own page.
Do be considerate of your roommate's schedule. If she has to wake up for an 8 a.m. class, don't watch a loud action movie with the volume turned up until 2 a.m.
Don't use text and e-mail to handle disagreements. While sitting across the room typing furiously on your phone may be the easy way out, it's much better to negotiate compromises face-to-face. Three important rules: Use "I" statements (i.e., "I can't sleep when your music is blaring" vs. "Your music is incredibly annoying"); listen as much as you lecture -- in fact, repeat what the other person is saying before you counter with your argument; and don't try to win. The point is to come to some middle ground.
Do listen and empathize when your child calls with a roommate problem.
Don't step in and call the resident advisor or your child's roommate with complaints on your child's behalf.
Do encourage your child to ask the resident advisor for advice if a problem persists.
Don't forget that your child (and his or her roommate) don't live under your roof. If the bed isn't made and the posters are crooked, keep your mouth shut.