We’re right at that time when school’s about to start, and
for many of you that means sending your kids off to college for the first time.
This event can be just as scary for parents as it is for your student. Below is
a list of a few things to help you through this first year:
Making sure your kids know they can always come home when
they need to is important, but just as importantly, they need to learn how to
get along on their own. It can be hard for parents to not run to the rescue
every time their new college student hits a road bump, but they have to learn
how to deal with those things on their own.
Keeping in contact with your student will probably be pretty
easy for the first few weeks while they’re still settling into their new world.
Don’t be surprised or worried if contact starts to drop off as they start to
make new friends, go out, and become a part of campus life. (Side tip:
encourage your kids to live in the dorms for at least their first year. Yes,
dorms are always terrible, but that’s where they’ll probably make 90% of their
friends) This is completely normal and should make you happy because they’re
starting to get their footing in this new atmosphere.
In the beginning, your kid is probably going to be stoked to
be out on their own, excited about their teacher, all the new information, new
friends, etc. However, many students’ enthusiasm tends to drop off about half way
through the semester as midterms come up and the work gets a little harder.
They may even start talking about dropping out, but it’s important to be a
sounding board for their frustrations and encourage them to stick it out. Good
rule of thumb, wait until the end of the year before making any decisions about
leaving or transferring. If at the end of the year they’re still hating their
experience, then revisit your options.
One of the hardest things for parents is when their children
come home for the first school break. This can be an odd experience for both of
you, because as a parent, you’ve just gotten used to not having the kids
around, and as a student, they’ve gotten used to being on their own and making
their own rules. So, in order to maintain peace, forget the old rules, and come
up with some more appropriate ones. Such as, no more curfews, but maybe agree
that if your kid’s going to go out, they should at least check in if they’re
planning on coming home very late or if they plan on staying out overnight,
just so you don’t stay up waiting and worrying (because that behavior just isn’t
ever going to go away).
Lastly, when visiting, don’t just show up unannounced. While
this may seem like a fun idea to you, your new student probably already has
plans, and it would be a little unfair for you to ask them to just drop
everything because you’ve decided to show up at their door Friday afternoon.
Always plan out visits. Plus, their living quarters are probably a disaster
zone, wouldn’t you rather them be able to have some time to clean up the place.