Parents – Get Ready for the College Journey
- In college, your child will be on a path of self-discovery, uncovering new interests, challenges, and opportunities.
- You can support your child by listening to their needs and guiding them toward making their own choices.
- If you feel your child may be struggling, encourage them to take advantage of on-campus counseling and other support.
Tighten your seatbelt! That wild ride you know as parenting has taken an exciting and somewhat scary turn: your child is beginning their journey to college … adulthood … and life on their own.
You’re probably in disbelief that this moment has finally come. You may even have had tough parenting moments when you thought this moment would never come.
Well, it’s here and it’s happening.
College is a huge change that will bring about many challenges and decisions for your child – from navigating academics to coping with living away from home for the first time. Here’s a guide to help with preparing for college so you’ll know what to expect and how you can help on this very unfamiliar journey of personal growth for you and your student.
- Let them fly. In the first few months, your child will have to make many decisions and face new challenges – in and out of the academic arena. The biggest challenge will be adapting to their new life away from the security of home. Tasks like making meals, doing laundry and managing money may seem a bit overwhelming at first.
Though you may not be with your child every day, you can offer them words of encouragement and wisdom. The key is to listen and guide them to find solutions to their problems and not solve them for them. Give your child space to figure things out and a guiding hand when they need a little help. And, help them learn and grow from their choices.
- Encourage time management. From sports and other activities to groups and clubs, your child will have opportunities to develop new skills and explore all kinds of interests. Encourage your child to have a healthy balance between managing their social life and managing academics. Buy them a calendar so they can chunk out their time.
Or, encourage them to use a time management app and use other strategies. Be patient if your child’s grades aren’t what you expected. They may just need a little time to manage all the responsibilities of their new life. Time management is an important part of their education that they’ll have to learn on their own. You can, however, encourage them to take advantage of extra academic help on campus if they need it.
- Stay connected. Every child is unique. Your child may like to call you every day or may prefer to send a text to you every now and again. You can communicate your love and support to your child in many ways – from greeting cards and care packages to visits (with their permission of course). There’s nothing wrong with checking in with them every now and again; just make sure you give them the space they need.
- Monitor physical and emotional health. Living independently will involve your child making healthy choices and understanding their emotional well-being. If you feel your child is not managing stress or experiencing depression or anxiety, encourage them to take advantage of counseling and guidance services on campus. It’s important to give your child space to learn and grow, but also to let them know you’re there when they really need you.
As you know, college planning isn’t easy, especially when your child is away from home. Just remember that college is where your child will learn many lessons that go beyond the classroom and what you could teach them at home. Have faith and relish that you and your child have done well to get where you are today.
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