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Advice We’d Give our Parent-of-a-college-student Self

haveuheard advice parent

Advice, This Will Help…

Sometimes, just having a little advice can be very reassuring. We’ve trained for this moment for about eighteen years and somehow when it gets here, we often feel blindsided. Perhaps, if someone would have told me, well, this…

You probably won’t talk every day. Generally, we have found you’re more apt to hear from daughters a bit more than sons. The best time to talk is often on their walk to or from classes. If that call is important to you, you may want to consider how their class schedule works on your own. However; do not sit by the phone. You should have a life too and they need to know that. You’re still a role model. Remember, you are a parent first, but you are also so much more. This is a great time to join that theater group/bowling team/take painting lessons.  Understand that this is as much of an adjustment for you as it is for your child. How could it not be when they’ve been around for 18 years? But it is their time to be on their own and start their journey to becoming independent, self-sufficient young adults. – Debbie F.

This easily leads me to the part about being their coach, not their assistant. While it is great to alert them to various things that you suspect will benefit them in a way they have yet to discover; once you have made that suggestion, let it go. Ok, fine, suggest it twice, but don’t push beyond that. They have to learn to figure things out for themselves. You know the old give them a fish and they eat for a day; teach them to fish and they eat for life, story? It couldn’t be truer. – Susanne H.

So, for example: “I read on HaveUHeard that there are actually 764 clubs on your campus. Have you thought about checking out the sculpture club/choir?” or “Chicken soup always feels good when you have a cold. Send an email to the Hillel on campus and they will bring you some.” “There are supposed to be puppies/yoga/an outdoor movie during midterms week to make your study breaks even better. You love puppies/yoga/movies!” “I read that there are quite a few options for tutoring. Have you considered that? What about study groups?”

Don’t expect they will have the same grades they had in high school. Some will do very well but others will find that there is a big learning curve when it comes to taking college classes. And, certain classes are what they call “weed out” classes; they are designed to have students rethink their major or career path because it carries a heavy course load filled with high stress and a fast pace. Sometimes this opens the door to better-suited majors or career paths for them. This leads us to the next advice we wish we knew. They may change their major several times. Students often do change majors. Actually, encouraging them to try out as many new things right from the start is a great way to discover what they love as well as what they originally thought was the way to go is not. College is all about discovery. Prepare for that call and remain calm. Better they figure it out now. – Janice W.

Prepare for this…

Prepare too for the independence that comes with college. Although they will make mistakes along the way because we ALL make mistakes along the way; take a breath before you judge. Usually, it is those blunders that teach them to do better next time. Expect change, realize it comes with the territory, and it is that very change that means they are growing and learning through their independence, which is exactly what college is about. Sometimes they will want your opinion, but sometimes they just need you to listen. That might be when you clear the calendar right before their biology lab. This advice is good but not easy to do.

The money part is definitely one of the more difficult decisions. A great way to start is to join an online group for parents of students at the same college. Find out what they give their kids, what it is meant to pay for, and how they dole it out? Average that and stick to your guns. It is fine for them to eat peanut butter five days in a row if it teaches them how to stick to a budget in the long run. I assure you; it pays off in the end.

Plan visits, even if they don’t revolve around Parent’s Weekend. Prices usually skyrocket on Parent’s Weekend and Homecoming and sometimes you can’t even enjoy the local stuff because of the crowds. There is probably far more to do near their college than you know and it is fun to see them in their new setting and explore their new world together. If you don’t plan ahead, your trip could amount to shopping and eating out. While these things aren’t bad options, there are more. Send care packages. They love them, when they’re not feeling well, studying, homesick, and celebrating and it will make you feel connected from far away. Speaking of being connected, use FaceTime. Our favorite family dinners are the ones where our college daughter’s face lights up the iPad we place in her usual seat.

Planning for my daughter’s departure to college was always present in the back of mind, as was the notion when they were babies that we must not blink for fear of missing their first steps, or better said enjoy every step of the journey. With that being said, dropping them off for freshman year was one of the proudest moments of my life yet I cried the entire trip home. Find solace in the fact that they have moved on to the next big adventure in life that will be filled with amazing new experiences. – Chris S.

I often joke that you will need big sunglasses to cover your tear-filled eyes as you say your final goodbyes.  I didn’t have mine the first time but did for child two. Child three actually told me that the glasses don’t do a thing to hide what really doesn’t need disguising. Face it, saying see-ya-later is going to be difficult, but for all the right reasons. Remember that and remember too that your student is also teeming with emotions so as much as they may want you to stay or go, your best bet is moving their stuff in, helping to make their bed, getting that last hug, and go. Think of it like ripping off a band-aid. There is so much for them to discover…without you holding their hand. Let the independence begin; both theirs and yours. – Susanne H.

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2020-08-19T13:28:37-04:000 Comments

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