AH, summer. If you have a college-bound senior, you may be savoring the last days of having your child at home before launching into college life. In addition to the excitement of setting up a dorm room, making plans for move in and such, now is the time to have some essential conversations with your student to help ensure a smooth and successful transition from home to campus.
Many parents feel the job of parenting ends once the task of getting a child to college is accomplished. Nothing could be further from the truth. My colleagues and I can set our watches by the increase in calls from distressed students (and parents) around October. College life, without any pre-planning can be difficult. New freedoms often overwhelm new responsibilities; symptoms of anxiety and depression may emerge or re-emerge, this time far from parental support; and students sometimes display a carelessness with others that can do lasting damage to relationships at home.
Front-loading discussions must take place. While there are no guarantees that issues won’t unfold, informed and direct conversations are important preventative measures.
Topics for these conversations range from academic and social expectations to financial arrangements and emergency plans. While we never want to frighten or discourage a budding adult, it is wise to plan ahead in order to avoid pitfalls that could become obstacles to completing a degree and maintaining emotional and physical health and growth along the way.
As a parent, you are investing in your child’s education both financially and emotionally. If you invested a company’s stock, you’d likely have some level of expectation about that stock’s performance. Likewise, you have both the right and an obligation to have and state expectations in all areas before turning your young-adult child loose on the college world.