Whether your son or daughter is heading to college for their first year or they have been away from home for a while, you’re bound to have some concerns. As parents, we hope we prepare our children for what they may face during adulthood. For many, the first step toward adulthood is their time in college.
In this article, we share some helpful advice for parents of college students.
Advice for Parents of College Students
There are nearly 15 million students enrolled in college right now, according to statistical reports. This means there are between 15 and 30 million parents of students attending college.
This means millions of parents are worried, anxious, excited, and missing their children. Millions of parents are fearing their loss of control, access, and availability for their kids.
Millions of parents have the same question, “How do I be a good parent to my college student?”
Being a good parent for your college student means establishing a healthy relationship consisting of a balance of being a parent and letting your students find themselves and their independence. This can be hard for both parents and students.
Students are still dependent on their parents while in college, but they want to feel independent. Parents want to set rules and help their children avoid the mistakes they made in college, but they want to make decisions for themselves.
Achieving a healthy balance is possible and below are tips to help you.
Start Preparing for the Transition Early
Don’t wait until two weeks before your child leaves for college to prepare. There are many things you can do with your college student to ease the pains of this transition for both of you.
For instance, choosing the right college for your child. If your child wants to learn a trade, they may not need to go to a four-year institution, at least not in the beginning.
If your child wants to become a doctor, choosing an institution with the best path to medical school may be best. If your child doesn’t know what they want to do, focus on a good liberal arts school.
If your child has a mental health disorder, choosing a school with many counseling and peer mentoring resources is best.
Visit the schools together, get your child’s feedback, and decide together.
Preparing early also means discussing finances.
Decrease Their Debt
Owing money after graduation is big burden on students, especially when they cannot find a job right away in their field. The more you can do to help reduce their debt, the better.
Society has made it seem as if it is normal and okay for students to have student loan debt. However, it is a crisis in America.
When parents can help pay for their student’s tuition and fees, it sets them up for bigger success after graduation. If you can’t help financially, then help your child start early in applying for grants and scholarships.
Communicate Your Expectations
Your child may think that since they are no longer living at home, they are free to do whatever they want. You must communicate your expectations to them. Be specific when discussing expectations. Don’t just tell them to stay out of trouble.
Make a list of all the things staying out of trouble can mean, like don’t get arrested, don’t drink alcohol or use drugs, and obey the laws of the school.
You can also express expectations that will improve their time in college, like joining a club, attending campus events, and meeting with professors.
You can also let them know that you will be visiting.
Before they leave for college you can pre-set dates for your visit. This helps ease the sadness of saying goodbye for both of you. If you already have a plan of when you will see each other again, you have something to look forward to.
Without a plan, you are left wondering how long it will be until you see your child. This can lead to negative feelings.
Start planning for your visits, get excited about what you will do when you get there, and focus on the positive side of them moving away from home.
There are also things you can do in-between visits, like send a care package.
Send Care Packages
Sending care packages is fun. You know you are going to make your child smile when they receive a box in the mail.
Fill it with items that are personal to your child, their favorite things. Most people send snacks as a generic care package, to eat while cramming for a test.
You can be original with your care package, however, and send the things your child needs the most and that will make them smile. You are sending a part of you with it.
Expect Them to Change
In college, they will be around multiple influences, some good and some bad. These influences, as well as what they learn in classes, living in an unsupervised environment, and becoming more responsible will change them.
Change can be for the better, though. You have given them a great foundation. Now it is time for them to use that foundation to discover their future.
Let your child make decisions, even if you know they are wrong. The lessons they learn will be invaluable.
Encourage Your Child to Utilize Campus Resources
College campuses are filled with resources to help your child succeed. They have access to academic tutors, peer mentors who can help them find fun sober activities to participate in, study groups, and clubs to join that match the interests of your child.
All your child’s needs can be met on campus. Help them reach out for help if they need it.
In conclusion, there are many other tips for you as a parent of a college student. Teach them how to be healthy, be accessible but not too accessible, celebrate their achievements, and pay attention to any signs that signal they need help.
The fact that you are reading articles like this one means you care enough to help your child be successful in college.
Get excited to see how your relationship can grow and develop as they move into adulthood.