5 Tips For Parenting A College Student

Yes, parenting a college student is a little different than parenting a high school student.  As your son or daughter graduates from high school and prepares for college, they transform from a needy high school student to an independent young adult.

Here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind as your child shifts from teenager to young adult.

Tip #1 – Learn To Text

It is likely that your child communicates mostly via text as opposed to talking on the phone, so it’s time to take a look at your cell phone package and make sure that it includes texting.  Since he or she will be away at the dorms, texting is the most efficient and convenient way for you to keep in touch with your college kid.  Be sure to find out when his or her classes are so you won’t disrupt them in the middle of a lecture.

Tip #2 – Advise, Don’t Decide…

Your child will likely still ask you for advice on choosing classes, planning their schedule, and deciding which clubs or activities to join.  It’s been said that this generation of college students have closer ties with their parents than past generations.

With this being the case, it can be easy for you to just tell them what they should do, rather than helping them make decisions for themselves.  The best way for you to do this is to ask open ended questions, offer up some suggestions, and let them make the final decision.

Remember…advise, don’t decide.  Even though it might be difficult at first to watch your child grapple with making decisions alone, they’ll thank you later.  Keep in mind that you are preparing them for life after college.

Tip #3 – It’s Okay To Fail

As with any course of action that we decide to take, there is the possibility that we may not be successful at it and that’s okay.  Unfortunately, a critical part of the learning experience is failing.  Now we’re not talking about failing a class…let me explain in a little more detail.

If your child doesn’t wake up in time for the first day of class because he or she forgot to set an alarm clock, this can be considered a mini-failure.  Or if your child misses a dentist appointment because he or she forgot to write it down, this can also be considered a mini-failure.

If your child is use to you being their organizer, alarm clock, reminder, and so on, he or she is bound to make some mistakes.  After it’s all said and done, talk to your child about what happened and how they might handle the situation differently next time.

Tip #4 – It’s Their Degree, Not Yours…

There’s no doubt about it, college can be tough and it requires a lot of discipline and hard work to earn a degree.  However, along with all the hard work comes a great sense of accomplishment on graduation day.  This is why, as a parent, you should let your child do the work him or herself.  In high school, it’s common for students to have their parents “edit” their homework for them.  Your college student may be accustomed to you “coming to the rescue” when faced with a challenging homework assignment.

If your child calls you for assistance with a homework assignment, resist the urge to complete the assignment for them.  It is okay to offer up “advice,” as we discussed earlier, but you don’t want your child to become too dependent on you.  Remember…It’s their degree, not yours and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Tip #5 – You’re Still A Parent

Just because your child is an adult now, doesn’t mean that your job as a parent is complete.  In today’s college environment, it is not uncommon for college students to go crazy with all the partying and not know how to handle their newfound independence.  There is nothing wrong with talking to your child about grades, parties, sex, and other risky activities.

The reality is that kids still want limits and even though you won’t be there physically to oversee all of their social activities, they still want to know that they are accountable to someone other than themselves.

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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