Parenting U: The College Search is an Adventure

After years of birthday parties, soccer practices and report cards, sending your teen off to college is a tough pill to swallow. You’ve put your heart and soul into your kid’s well being.

College isn’t the end of your parenting career, however. It’s the next step in the journey. Long talks may move from the living room to the telephone, and you may have a few sleepless nights, but not before one last adventure at home: choosing a college.

Before your son or daughter leaves the nest, treat his or her college search like a great adventure to tackle before the next chapter begins. Travel to campuses, explore cities and set the itinerary for parents’ weekend to prepare for this next step.

Experience is the Best Teacher

Students have no shortage of voices influencing their decisions on where to attend college. Your opinion is unique, though, and has your child’s best interest in mind. Ultimately, your student has to choose where he or she will spend the next few years, but your advice can provide clarity and direction. Perhaps your teen earned a scholarship through grades, SATs or a high AP score, but many American college students spend their university years raking up debt at a rapid rate. College-bound students struggle to consider their financial health. According to, the average student borrower owed $26,600 in 2011. Offer wisdom to your child as they choose a school. Your experience with debt will provide a practical perspective.

Education Vacation

Visiting colleges provides parents and teens with the best adventure yet. Along with touring dorm rooms and visiting advisors, use these college trips to create memorable experiences. Heading up to University of Oregon? Explore Mt. Hood National Forest. Visiting University of San Diego? Bask in the sun and enjoy boogie boarding on the coast. All of the fights, punishments and frustrations in your relationship will fade, but your teen will carry these memorable moments with them to college and beyond.

Continued Adventures

Involvement in your child’s college search revamps your relationship. It won’t be the same as the last 18 years, but planning parents’ weekend visits, holidays and vacations will instill a new appreciation for the unbreakable bond between parent and child. Discuss the adventures your student will have during freshman year and how to prevent them from turning disastrous. Regular visits will keep you connected, and your relationship will take on a whole new character based on encouragement and pride.

There’s No Place like Home

Don’t let this landmark event pass without expressing your love and appreciation for your college-bound kid. Your teen may never live in your house again, but it will always be the place he or she considers home. Celebrate your child making it to college — some parents aren’t so lucky. Chances are, the love and joy you express will be reciprocated back toward you.

As your teen leaves for college, one chapter wraps up while another unfolds. What are you waiting for? Grab some brochures and join in on your student’s greatest adventure.

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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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