Parents At College: Should They Be There?

Let’s face it.  No matter whether you’re the oldest child, youngest child or somewhere in the middle, it’s hard for parents to send a child off to college.  I didn’t even move out when I started college, and it was still hard for my parents.  College means independence for you now.  You get to pick your classes, your schedule and a large part of your future when you start your freshman year.  It can be helpful to pick how much influence you want your parents to have.  However, one point of advice is that your relationship with your parents is a two-way road; I can guarantee you don’t get to dictate it.

Grades and money are two areas where there may be some debate about what part parents should play.  If they’re paying for school, don’t even argue about not sharing your grades with them.  If they’re paying for your college, they are spending thousands of dollars on your education and should have a right to know whether or not that money is being wasted with bad grades.  Money should be mostly up to them; it’s their money.  If they want to pay for your housing and groceries, that’s up to them.  However, you could try striking a deal with them.  I struck a deal with mine.  Because I’m on scholarship, and they’re not paying for my schooling, they pay for my clothes and things I need.  I pay for my gas, food I eat out and my entertainment.

College can also bring a little bit of a power struggle for students and their parents.  Parents still want to take care of their children while their children want to be independent and on their own.  Girls often say their mothers are their best friends, and they tell them everything.  I was never this way with my mother until a couple of months ago when I realized it’s true: your parents do know more about life than you do.  And the sooner you realize that, the less fighting you will do with your parents during college.  This isn’t to say they always know what’s best for you.  Often times they don’t know the entire situation, whatever it may be.  But when your parents give you advice, at least pay some heed to it rather than ignore it completely.

Before you start your freshman year, it may be a good idea to sit down with your parents and discuss some things, mostly financially.  Talk about cell phones bills, car payments and repairs, all types of insurance, credit cards and debit cards, housing and food.  All of these need to be paid by somebody.  Even if your parents are willing to pay for all those things, it’s good to learn about them and learn how they work in case something changes.

Don’t take advantage of your parents because you don’t want to be left high and dry when it comes time for you to take care of yourself, but you are still young and can’t necessarily be expected to do everything on your own.  Keep a good relationship with your parents so that when you need help mentally, emotionally, academically or financially, they are there to help you because they’ve done it all before.

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Jillian Jensen

Jillian Jensen

Jillian Jensen is a junior at the University of Utah majoring in Mass Communication with an emphasis in Print Journalism. Jillian is involved with student government and Greek Row at the U. Her biggest hobbies are writing, traveling and photography, but she also loves playing and teaching piano, skiing, dancing, sports and spending time with her family, friends and dog.
Jillian Jensen

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