5 Steps for Parents with Kids Transitioning to College
One minute they’re young and fragile and you’re rocking them to sleep, and the next they are ready and raring to flee the nest with as much excitement and vigor as they once had for Chuck-E-Cheese and unicorns. Life is fleeting, and nothing is more evident of this than when your child goes away to college.
For a lot of us, thoughts of having our child stay close to home for college, maybe even taking online courses so they don’t have to go far away, has crossed our minds. As parents, the role we really need to play is more supportive and less overbearing at this point. Here are the five things to help your child transition to college.
I am a true believer that there should be a serious focus on finances and managing a good budget in the junior and senior years of high school. Generally, kids graduate high school with no knowledge of how to manage their funds on their own. Whether you are able to help your child out financially while they are in college or not, if they do not know how to stretch that money, I can almost guarantee there will be a call for more finances or they will decide to take out loans to supplement the help — and spend that carelessly as well.
You don’t have to be tech savvy to have experienced the heartbreaking realization that you just lost everything you were working on because the computer failed. The blue screen of death is the real deal and is, unfortunately, something that many college students have a story about.
Imagine this: it’s finals week and you’re putting the finishing touches on a huge paper — when suddenly, the computer crashes…
Having a backup plan is always important. Purchasing not one but two external drives for your newly attending freshman is a huge step in avoiding the looming computer-crashing story. Not only does it help them to keep their computer fairly clear of unnecessary data so that it runs smoother and quicker, but it allows them to save work often so nothing gets lost in the shuffle.
I say two externals because, as any parent knows, there is a good chance that our efforts to help with tech issues could be overlooked and used for other things. One external for schoolwork and the other for music and entertainment. A work and play set of external drives helped to keep my recent graduate organized and generally on task.
Whether we think our young adults are ready or not, double checking whether they are capable of basic life skills may sound silly, but it is very necessary. Do they know how to do their own laundry without shrinking everything or turning it another color? Can they cook decent meals for themselves? Do they know how to put gas in their car? These are all very valid questions that a lot of us never think to ask because we are the ones that take care of these aspects of their lives.
Heart to Heart
It seems as though there is always a headline about young college student fatalities from drunk driving and assaults on college campuses — sexual and otherwise. Overlooking the very real possibility that something could happen, in my opinion, is irresponsible. A conversation about drinking and driving is one your child probably won’t enjoy but will appreciate.
Talk to your child about safety and smart choices before they go off to college. They’ll walk away more aware of them self and their potential circumstances. Even in this day and age, reaffirming to young ladies that it is okay to say no and that her body is not a barter system is necessary. Dinner and a movie doesn’t equate to owing anyone anything. You’re not a tease or a prude, you’re a strong young woman (or young man). For every 1,000 women on a college campus 35 are raped every year. These are very real numbers, so educating our sons and daughters about the facts is prudent.
The biggest source of stress for a lot of people when starting out in college is working out the financial aid information. For a lot of first year college students, the paperwork is extremely daunting. Set aside time to go over this with your child, either from home or with someone in the financial aid department at the university. This will not only take added stress off your child but it will give you an opportunity to speak with someone who can explain in detail the different kinds of loans available and how that process works.
These five things made the transition from home to college living much easier on all of us. We’re parents, we worry. It’s what we do. Being present without being pushy is what is most important, so that we don’t push so hard that we push them away.