Ive been out of college 2 years, and my little sis just went (rather unsuccessfully) through her first year of college. They need to know some basic life skills, balanceing a check-book, laundry, cooking small meals, the things you HAVE to be able to handle that they decided weren't important to teach in high school anymore! Start NOW on teaching how to use credit cards responsibly. My dad gave me his when I went to college but stressed that it was EMERGENCY's only...and I was to call and verify before I swiped it...lol! That kept me from goin crazy. The toughest part on me at first was the general adjustment, I went to a very small high school where my mom was a teacher and she did practically everything for me, and I got pretty bad homesick. I was tougher than my little sis tho, I stuck it out b/c I refused to go home with my tail between my legs...haha! Once that first semester was over and I got into the swing of things, I LOVED college.
One thing I think you should advise is get your child active in things. I was on the dance team in college and met a ton of people that way....it was so much easier to make friends when you had a common ground. Sororities and Fraternities are great too, they didnt offer them at my college, but had they, I would have certainly joined, once agian, to meet more people.
As far as going home and car issues, I had a car (not the best in the world, but it got me there!) and went to college about and hour and a half away so I came home most weekends (boyfriend, now husband was at home) My parents gave me an allowance every week for gas, toiletries, etc, and I got a part-time job on weekends to help out. As far as financeing it all, I got tons of scholarships from my ACT score and from things like being on the dance team. Start applying for them NOW....the sooner you get in the better. What I didn't get covered I got student loans for that I am now paying for. Some people think its awful that I basically paid for my college and my parents didnt help with that, but I'm proud of it, and they did, remember that gas money? Also, start figureing out what you need to do to get in the dorms at the colleges your child is interested in, the sooner you can get applications and deposits in, the nicer a room your child will get!
Now to tell you what NOT to do, based on my sister. My sis has always been pretty attatched to my mom, lots more so than I was. She went to a local college, but decided to stay in the dorm. within 12 hours, she was freaking out. and I mean litteral nervous breakdown, because she couldn't grasp the idea of staying away from mom. Mom bailed her out. She attended classes, but lived at home...she's not active in anything except for hanging out with high school kids, shes made this past year into a second senior year b/c my parents let her. Now they regret it. They wish they would have made her stick it out and gotten her involved in something to keep her mind off things. She doesn't have a job, she mootches off my parents, they had to take out a parent loan b/c she wouldn't do all the scholarship apps and missed out on alot of help, and hten the student loan people wouldnt give her enough $$ to cover it, its been one big expensive nightmare. shes on anti-depressants now, crazy basically. Long story short, don't go bailing them out the first time they have a hard time. It's gonna be hard on you too, but you can't always make it better for them! My sis has now put off living her life indefinetly because she now thinks she doesn't have to. My parents now would totally tell you to make them tough it out for a little bit. If it truly never gets better, then step in, but the first few weeks are tough but so is life!
Hope it helps!