Parenting College Students: Advice for Parents of Students

So your child is graduating from high school.  Or they already have.

They’re not kids anymore, they’re young adults.  And I’m sure you want nothing but the best for your blossoming young adult, so their next step is probably college.

As hard as it might be to face (trust me, I had to listen to my mom), you’re probably excited for their next step as much as they are.  Just in a different way.

Many parents of this generation didn’t attend college, so there’s a good chance that your kid is paving the way.  Here are some tips for parenting college students and how to be there for them for these tough decisions.

For a fresh graduate interested in pursuing a higher education, there are basically three options.

  • Starting off at a community college
  • Commuting to a university
  • Going away to a university

Selecting a college

Deciding which one of these is right for you and your family depends on your student’s specific needs, both social and academic, budget, and personal preferences.

For instance, if your student isn’t sure exactly what they want to major in yet, a community college might be the best bet, since classes are expensive, and at least they can get their general education courses out of the way while they decide what they want to continue pursuing.

Going away to a university is a good bet for a student who craves independence, and doesn’t have much of a budget when it comes to school.

While it’s important to give your child some guidance (even if they say they don’t want it, they really do), it’s also important to let them have the last say.  You might be a proud Harvard grad, but just because that’s the right path for you, doesn’t mean it’s the right for your kid.

They might want to attend art school. And if you push it too much, they’re more likely to do the complete opposite. Forgive me for referencing ’90s teen movies there, but hey, it applies. After all, this choice will affect them for the rest of their lives.

If they make a mistake, it should be their mistake, not yours.  If they make a great choice, they should be proud of themselves for figuring it out on their own.

Once they’ve made their choice

Respect it.

You may think it’s absolutely ridiculous to study medieval literature at a overpriced, pretentious liberal arts academy.  But they don’t.  If it turns out a year or so in, that they feel they made the wrong choice, they can try again.

If they’re paying for their own schooling or taking out loans, it’ll be their burden, not yours.  This is a hard thing for a lot of parents to grasp, but it teaches their kid responsibility and money management.

Or at least that’s what my parents told me when I started taking out my own loans. But until then, smile, nod, and take interest in their interpretation of “Beowulf.”

After all, who’s to say that they won’t become a successful professor in that field?

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Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski

Carmen Bojanowski is a senior at Eastern Michigan University, double majoring in journalism and communications. She writes for her college newspaper, mostly covering local bands and interns at 89x, a metro-Detroit radio station. She frequents the movie theater and when she has free time, she likes spend it with her friends. Carmen hopes to one day be a music journalist.