Many parents worry about leaving their child on their own at college for the first time. You and your kid can enjoy new freedom, but he or she might need help adjusting to college life. Becoming a trusted advisor while letting your child make his or her own decisions about dorm rooms, classes, majors, and more is difficult.
What’s the best advice for parents of college students? Parents should keep their distance while offering encouragement, teach kids basic skills, and help with research on colleges.
Keeping Your Distance
You might be tempted to call every day to find out how your child is doing at college, but you need to give your new student some space to deal with new problems and situations without your help. If he or she has a problem with a roommate, tell him or her to talk to the person or go to the RA or resident advisor if talking doesn’t work. If your child is having a problem with a class, tell him or her to speak to the professor. You can also remind your kids to study and avoid skipping classes.
If you get too involved with your child’s problems, you could embarrass him or her by talking to a professor, a roommate, or an RA. No freshman college students want people to think that they need a parent to deal with their problems.
Also, calling too often could keep your child from studying or getting to know a new roommate. Speak to your new student about once per week, and let him or her know if you’re planning to visit.
College is a drastic change after high school, and many new students are homesick. Encourage your kid to stay since most homesickness only lasts for a few weeks. Let your child know that he or she can visit on weekends, but don’t let him or her give up on college to come back home. Even overachievers in high school might have mediocre grades in their first semester of college.
Exploring campus, meeting new people, and getting used to a new university can be distracting, so you shouldn’t be angry or disappointed if your student doesn’t achieve As right away.
Teaching Basic Skills
Before he or she leaves for college, teach your new student basic skills like doing laundry and cooking something that’s more complicated than Ramen noodles. Students should also have their own bank accounts and know how to manage their finances.
Make sure your child understands the terms for all loans, including credit cards and car loans, before he or she agrees to them. He or she needs to know how to avoid overdraft and other fees as well. Remind your child to save money by shopping at thrift stores and taking advantage of student discounts.
Help your child explore campuses and research colleges to choose the best education. When you choose a school, make sure that he or she knows where to go for counseling, medical assistance, financial aid, and other services. You can also ask FRANK for help with the FAFSA® and other financial aid.