All parents are different, and they all handle this milestone in their own ways. However, there are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to being a good college parent. In case your ‘little one’ has already left, or you’re just now preparing for their departure into a whole new universe, there are some things you need to know – when to step in, when to back out, how to handle the finance, the emotional toll, everything. Luckily, hundreds upon thousands of parents have already been through this, so we’ve done our due diligence and gathered some pearls of wisdom that you will definitely find priceless.
Advise, don’t push
Although you feel like, as a parent, you know what’s best for your child, there is a line between advising and pushing them. When it comes to picking out the right school, or even a major, you can gently encourage your kid to major in something that will be lucrative in the future. We all know tuitions are high, and education is expensive, so you want your child to go to a school and major in something that will allow them to land on their feet. However, if they have a dream of pursuing something that you don’t believe will pay off, don’t dismiss their dreams. Let them have a go at it – trust in your child’s passions and allow them to chase their dreams. Who knows, with some calmly and lovingly given advice, you might even find a common ground. Also, be aware that right after college, they might move back home and need your help. In this economy, finding decent jobs that allow you to thrive and earn a decent living right after college is more than difficult, so prepare for the possibility that your baby will return.
Don’t go beyond your means
One of the most frequently given advice by parents who have been through this is “Don’t choose a college that you cannot afford”. Your child will still benefit from a college education no matter where they go and also, try to avoid student loans, as we know how many college graduates are struggling with college debt. Don’t put your child in that situation. If the college fund you set up doesn’t cut it, either go with a college you can afford, or look for scholarships that will make the financial aspect all the more easier.
They don’t know what they need
Before you send them off, make sure they have everything they need. Chances are your kids won’t even know what they’re lacking until they’re already at school, so resort to those useful college essentials checklists and make sure they have everything they need to kick the year off right.
Provide useful tips
Just because they’re at college doesn’t mean they have a clue what they’re doing. At heart, they’re still high school seniors who just happen to be away from home. Make sure you send them links or advice on the best ways to study effectively. Advise them to get involved in extracurricular activities, and perhaps even make inquiries about internships. Also, regardless of the fact that most of the information regarding the curriculum, notes, study materials and everything else related to subjects will be provided by professors and peers, remind them of the importance of looking for the right sources, such as the comprehensive Thinkswap resources platform, as sources such as these aren’t only reliable, but you have everything in one place and it’s always updated, so you know the information is always ‘fresh’.
Don’t do everything for them
This is a great opportunity for your kid to become more capable and independent. Yes, give them advice on how to use the washers and dryers but don’t ask them to bring it all home so mom can take care of things and pack everything so it’s crispy clean and ironed. Let college life give them a few curve balls. Let them learn how to cook, do laundry, pay bills, etc. While on the subject, teach them about the value of money and don’t just send them additional cash when they run out mid-month. You’re not doing them a favor by coddling them in that way. Instead, tell them to get a part-time job and earn some extra cash. They will ultimately thank you for it.
Learn to let go
Your kid is in over their head with new people, a new town, a heavy workload and is trying to navigate the waters and simply keep their head above water. Let them do their thing – check up on them – no one says you shouldn’t call your child, but if you’re experiencing the empty nest syndrome, you have to deal with it. Find a hobby, spend more quality time with your spouse, but don’t hover over your kid. Give them the space they need to find their place on campus and in the world. Trust us, they’ll be the ones calling you sooner than you expect.