Heading off for college is an exciting time in a child’s life, and it is also one that is fraught with emotion. Children are understandably excited to move forward towards their future, however, for parents, the experience can be bittersweet. As a parent of a child destined for college, the emotional turmoil of separation can make it hard to cut the cord and let your child explore. However, arming yourself with information and some helpful tips can help you prepare your child and yourselves for the future. We have put together X helpful tips for parents of both local and long-distance college students that will increase your peace of mind and help your child succeed.
Know The Right Points of Contact
Parents know their children better than anyone else. Even when they start their life as a college student, they will have habits and hobbies that remain steady. As a parent is important to give your child the space they need to mature but to also pay attention to your gut. Checking in on occasion or when you feel something is off is always a good idea. However, you will need to know exactly who to contact and when. The resident advisor may seem like the most likely point of contact, but it is important to keep in mind RA’s are students themselves. Instead, write down the number to the VP of Student Affairs or Dean of Students. Most modern campuses also have a family office that is available for general inquiries as well as a crisis management office that is available 24/7 for emergencies.
Put on A Happy Face
Even if your child is excited to head off for college, chances are they are hiding a niggle of fear at the thought of being apart. It is important to support their independence but keep the strongest of your emotions bottled up tightly. Put on a happy face and avoid sharing your worries about their time away. Instead, focus on giving them tips and sharing insights that will help to boost their confidence during this vulnerable time. This will help make their transition easier and also give them the courage they need to face any upcoming challenges. Also, you can leave encouraging notes in their various packed items. They will come across them after you have already left and will go a long way towards easing any feelings of loneliness.
Encourage Your Child to Connect With Faculty
Chances are your child had at least one favorite teacher in high school. It is important to encourage them to form relationships with the faculty at college similar to their high school teacher relationships. A lot of research has shown that students who develop quality connections with faculty members will have a better college experience. Faculty members are a great resource for students who may need extra direction, help with subjects they may be struggling in, or even just a person to talk to on occasion. The best way to foster a good faculty relationship is by arriving in class on time and dressing appropriately. Taking notes, showing initiative, and also engaging in the lessons are also important ways to form quality faculty connections.
Make Yourself Available
College hours and regular hours are very different. Students tend to be in classes for most of the day and will follow up with parents or friends at odd hours in the evening. Make a point of making yourself available and receptive regardless of the time. On that note, expect more text messages than phone calls at least during their first year. When you do speak with your child, allow them to guide the conversation. It is easy to revert to parent mode and fire off questions as if they were still living at home. This can lead them to feel as if you don’t think they can handle themselves or that you don’t have confidence in their willingness to succeed. Instead, ask general questions in a way that allows them to bring up any issues if they so desire. The less you say, the more they will volunteer.
Encourage Your Child to Make Connections
If you look at some of the most successful people today, one thing you will notice is that many of them met in college. Forming friendships or even strong connections will have lasting benefits well into the future. Also, the vast majority of jobs are only going to be found on the hidden job market post-graduation. One of the best ways to ensure that your child has access to that market is through the cultivation of connections. Encourage your child to talk to people with a shared interest to help expand their network. This not only applies to other students but also to professors, interns, lab techs, and anyone else they may encounter in the university setting.
Talk About Social Media Safety
There is no way to avoid exposure to social media, and once your child goes off to college their exposure will only increase. It is critically important to avoid posting things that can have a harmful effect on the future on social media. Let’s face it, even the most conservative kid will have a little fun once they head to college, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have to be safe. Explain to your child that everything posted on social media may be evaluated when they actually go to apply for a job or even for their master’s degree. It is also important to teach them to limit their time on social media to help prevent any negative mental health issues while they are away from their usual group of friends and family.
Preparing Your Kids For The Future, One Step at a Time
Parents and students both experience dramatic growth during their college years. As a responsible parent, it is important that you arm your children with the tools and information they will need to succeed. With these tips and a bit of luck, your child will grow into a capable young adult with the will to see their education through to their graduation and beyond. The narrative matters to people from all walks of life and all age ranges. From POC on the cusp of entering their first year of college to parents learning to live with an empty nest. Our goal is to ensure that Black voices are heard and appreciated.
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