The transition that your child makes into adulthood as they leave home can be jolting. Although it might seem like your role as a parent is dismissed when your child sets foot onto their college campus, this is not the case. There are many ways that parents can help their college-bound children prepare and adapt to their new environment.
Preparing for the Move
Before move-in day, there are several ways that you can prepare your child for some of the changes that come with moving out of the house.
- Budgeting – Go over your student’s monthly expenses. Oftentimes, college students go to school and work (sometimes on campus) at the same time to support their expenses. Teach your child how to budget so they don’t fall into common money traps. For example, banks often show up as sponsors during college orientation to encourage your now-adult child to sign up for their credit programs.
- Healthcare – Explain how healthcare works, and whether they are still on your plan. Help them find a provider located near the college campus so they don’t have to worry about it later on. It is also useful to identify immediate healthcare options on campus.
- Banking – Even if your child is technically operating under your own main account, educate your child about how to use their account, as well as any debit or credit cards. If they are opening their own account, go with them to the bank to discuss the responsibilities and requirements for doing so.
- On-campus Resources – Help your child identify on-campus resources. This includes advisors, recreational centers, tutoring centers, and financial aid services. College campuses are big, and not knowing where key offices are can become stressful during the first several weeks of school.
Adapting to College Life
After your child leaves home, the first few months are often challenging because of their classes and overall adjustment. Encourage your child from the sidelines.
- Encourage Socialization – Some students find it hard to find a new group of friends. If facing similar issues, encourage your child to attend rallies and social gatherings held on campus. Remind them that, aside from education, college is a time to connect with others.
- Emotional Health – In the midst of keeping up with classes and looking for where they “fit in”, your child might neglect their own emotional health. Many college students feel like they simply don’t have time to address any negative feelings because they need to be the perfect, well-rounded student. Remind your child that mistakes, and imperfect test scores do not dictate their worth, and encourage communication about the tough aspects of college. Oftentimes talking about these issues alleviates some stress.
- Open-ended questions – Ask your child open-ended questions when you check in with them. Instead of guiding conversation, encourage them to lead by asking questions that require more than a yes or no answer.
Many parents around the country face similar feelings as their children go off to college. A lot of these feelings center upon the reduced role that a parent plays when their child leaves home, but parents are just as critical during the college years. Providing sage advice and a warm home to visit during holidays plays a significant role in a student feeling supported in their educational journey. Though the role is different, it is just as meaningful, nonetheless.