College bound students aren't the only ones stressed out about leaving home for school. Many parents find the whole process overwhelming. Parents stress about which college to send their children to, how they'll pay for it all and whether the homework will actually get done. To help parents and students alike, we've compiled a few ways for parents to help their students, and themselves, prepare for and adjust to college life.
First, parents and students should do the college research together. Get online and surf the web for information about the school, its reputation, the campus, and student body. Parents can provide excellent guidance for students that are unsure of what they might want or need. Also, parents can educate their kids on the academic rigors of college classes. They should also accompany the student to a parent friendly orientation session, campus visits or informational meetings. Ultimately, the student should make an informed decision about which school they most want to attend, but parents should join the discussion.
Also, before students move out of the house and into the dorms, both parties should discuss ground rules and boundaries. For example, students may only want to speak to their parents once a week, while parents might plan on phoning every day. There should be an agreed upon schedule for phone calls or e-mails to discuss how things are going. Parents should also explain their expectations regarding grades and behavior. Have "the talk" with students about the dangers of alcohol and drug abuse, lack of sleep and risky sexual behavior. While this might be uncomfortable for both students and parents, rules provide stability for students in an otherwise confusing situation.
Another great idea for parents to consider is speaking with the students about a financial game plan. Go over the cost of tuition, books, room and board. Discuss who will pay for food, recreational activities or trips. Together, parents and students can look at the financial aspects of college and make financial decisions based on the facts. This will also help students appreciate the value of their college experience and even think twice before spending money frivolously.
Finally, one of the hardest and best things a parent can do to prepare their student for college is to simply let them go. Stop reminding them about exams and homework and allow the student to face the challenges of college head on. Mistakes may happen along the way, but the students will grow and mature because of them.