It’s off to college they go…….melindahill | September 9, 2009
It’s that time of year for many young people to spread their wings and test their independence by heading off to college. This is a great transition time for both parents and young adults because the rules will change, the expectations are somewhat unknown and the responsibility factors can be overwhelming. As parents, we are launching our children into adulthood and become more like coaches and advisers, helping them to make good decisions without telling them what to do or rescuing them. Here’s a few pointers from college handbooks and freshman counselors.
- Listen to their concerns- they need to know you are still there for support, don’t trivialize any of their emotions or concerns, let them talk and process the changes they are going through.
- Stay in touch- but not too much, be interested but not intrusive. Send notes or care packages or even pictures of special events. Expect that your student will not respond to all of your contact, but know that they appreciate hearing from you.
- Negotiate how often to expect a phone call or communication—-say Sunday evening at 7:00 we will touch base or whatever you decide–e-mail, IM, calls etc
Think about your parting words. Know that your conversations may be short and so make a list of the most important things to share. Choose your ending words carefully because that may be what they remember until the next time you talk. Things like “I’m proud of you,” or “ I’m here for you” or if words don’s come easy, write them down and send it.
You will be excited to see them come home and to leave. Remember they have been on “college” time and they will have new habits, especially with food and sleep. Their routines may not follow yours any more, choose your battles carefully and enjoy the time you have together.
The recommendation is to keep your child’s room as their room at least the first year. It’s their home base, a place they know they can come and have the security of home. If after the first year, they have moved on to their own and have made it evident that they don’t plan to return, then you can talk with them about the changes that you might plan.
Encourage an appropriate level of independence and self responsibility for your teenager. If they don’t already know how, make sure they learn how to do the laundry, set up and live on a budget, and manage their time. All of these are life skills that will improve with practice.
Teens will learn through the choices they make, thus they endure the consequences. When a problem arises, they suggest to parents to move slowly, move like your feet are stuck in molasses. Don’t rush to the rescue, let them seek solsutions to the problems and work it out on their own.
Keep them informed of what’s going on at home, don’t overburden them with issues out of their control, they have lots to handle away from home.
Expect Change,you student will change. They are the same person, but they are developing the competence and independence that we want in a young responsible adult.
Don’t expect the same grades in college that the students got in high school, many straight A students are now in a different setting and find they can’t achieve that, at least their first year.
Don’t tell them, these are the best years of your life. Especially the first year of college can be full of indecision, insecurities, disappointments and most of all mistakes. It’s also full of discovery, inspiration, good times and exciting people
As a parent of a college student, I can say we’ve experieinced (and survived) many of the above . I hope you find this information helpful as we support our students through the highs and lows of college life.
Written by Melinda Hill, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Wayne County