It is important to remember that your relationship with your son or daughter will change over the coming months and years. We hope these tips will be helpful to you as you make the transition.
It is important to send lots of mail, even if you don’t get any in return. There is no greater joy for a college student than to get a letter or a care package from home. Even though students are excited to experience the independence of being away from home, most still need to feel family ties and the security and warmth of a message from home. Along with letters and cards, other good ideas include sending a hometown newspaper or a favorite homemade food, especially on holidays. Parenting can be a lonely job, especially during the college years. Don’t be upset if you do not hear from your son or daughter for extended periods of time.
Plan a campus visit to spend time with your son or daughter. Do not show up unannounced. Visits from parents are another aspect that some students are reluctant to admit looking forward to, but they are normally much appreciated. Having a prearranged weekend gives the student and you, the parents, something to look forward to. It’s a time for your son or daughter to introduce you to their new friends, and it’s a time for you to become familiar with your student’s new life.
Remember to treat your son or daughter as an adult. Perhaps one of the greatest struggles for college students is being recognized as an adult. No matter how independent they may become, students want their parents to treat them as adults.
Encourage your student to participate in campus organizations and activities. Students who get involved on campus have greater academic success than students who only study. It may be difficult for your student to find a niche, but persuade them to not give up. Finding their place at a large university can be a struggle for students, but they can do it!
Encourage your student to foster a good relationship with his/her academic advisor and to continue to seek their advice throughout their academic career. Advising mistakes can prove costly in terms of expense and delayed graduation, and maintaining open communication with an academic advisor can help students stay on track.
Make sure that your son or daughter keeps the record’s office informed of address changes. Maintaining the proper permanent and on-campus address is essential for your son or daughter to receive prompt information from the college.
Be patient with your son or daughter. College and the experiences associated with it can bring about many changes. The college years are a time of great change, and it is important that students receive support and patience from their family.
Teach your student how to balance a checkbook and handle other financial responsibilities before he or she leaves home. Many students fall into the trap of credit card offers and may reach a maximum limit on a credit card before they realize the ramifications of bad credit.
Remind your student to be aware of personal safety issues, both on and off campus. Your son or daughter can only be as safe as they allow themselves to be. Encourage your student to be aware of their surroundings and not walk alone at night. Remind them of the important issues involving alcohol related issues.
Don’t panic. All students face challenges and struggles as they go through their college careers, and you might even get a phone call or two when your student feels overwhelmed. When the whole world seems to be toppling down all at once, your student is going to turn to the one place that has always been a source of strength – home. Listen to your son or daughter and try to encourage them, but don’t panic! Every student has a bad day.
Buy your student a grocery-store gift certificate. Even if a student has a meal plan, it’s nice to have a little money to spend at the grocery store. If you give your student money to spend at the grocery, it may be spent on other things, but a grocery gift certificate is sure to be spent on extra food and snacks your student might want.
Trust them. No matter how much you want to, you have to let your son or daughter make his or her own decisions. College students struggle with making their own decisions. Finding oneself is a difficult enough process without feeling that the people whose opinions you respect most are second-guessing your own second-guessing.
Understand your child is going to experience highs and lows. College students, especially first years, experience the highs and lows of life at a time when they are just learning how to handle experiences as an adult. Parents who insist that the college years are the greatest time in life place an unintentional pressure on their students and cause students to second-guess the situations and decisions they make. The best way to help your student is to accept the highs and the lows that the college experience offers your student.
(Compiled from the University of Tennessee website)