What to Know When Your First Child Goes to College

When your first (or only) child goes to college, you probably have many questions. How often should you call them? How much financial help should you give them? Now that you have extra free time, what should you do with it? This stage in your child’s life can be tricky to navigate. Read on to find the answers to these questions.

Your Child Will Feel Homesick

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: Many college students feel homesick during their first few months away from home. This is especially true if they’ve moved to another city where they don’t know anyone. They’ll have to live with roommates, meet new friends, and learn how to manage their time. Unless your son or daughter handles stress exceptionally well, you can expect them to call you in a panic at least once.  

As a parent, lending an ear when they call is one of the best ways you can help. Encourage them to find their own solution to the problem. As tempting as it is to give advice, your child needs space to become more autonomous. On that same note, keep your phone calls or text messages to a minimum. It’s best to let your child reach out to you first. 

Your Child Might Have Trouble Budgeting

Even if your son or daughter is normally responsible, living within a budget is far different from planning it out on paper. Unexpected expenses might come up. Your child might go overboard with spending on a shopping trip. Some college students go to the extreme and use their tuition money for extravagant purchases such as vacations or cars. 

Hopefully, you won’t face these problems, but you should still be prepared for your child to make financial mistakes. One thing you can do as a parent is to make your expectations clear so your son or daughter knows what you will and won’t pay for. You can also link one of your bank accounts to your child’s student checking account. That way, you can see exactly where their money is going. 

Your Extra Free Time Is a Good Thing

It’s perfectly normal to feel sad when your child moves away for college. As much as you miss him or her, however, there’s a good side to the situation. You’ll have more free time. If you’ve wanted to fix up the house, grab the materials you need and get started. Are there any hobbies you’ve wanted to try? Sign up for a class, or join a special-interest group. 

If you’re married or in a relationship, you can reconnect as a couple. Plan a weekly date night. Try a new hobby together such as pottery or hiking. Getting together with friends more often is a great idea, too. Still, have kids at home? Make the most of your time together before it’s their turn to move out.

Going to college is exciting and challenging for both students and their parents. By knowing what problems to look for, you’ll be better prepared to help your child when he or she needs it.