Smart ways to prevent your kid from making dumb mistakes in college
For many young people, college is their ticket to parental freedom. But these years are when your child may need you the most. Here are some smart ways to be sure your college-bound child gets schooled for success not the school of hard knocks.
For many young men and women, college is their first taste of freedom away from home, yet times can get tough. According to a study by NAMI, "More than 80 percent of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year and 45 percent have felt things were hopeless." This statistic gives you a sense of what college students are dealing with. As much as you may want to treat them like your little boy or girl, there are things you can do that will encourage them to grow and figure things out for themselves.
There were certain tasks that could have been shown to me instead of done for me. Filling out scholarship forms, applications and taxes are just a few things that should be shown to your kids so they can do it themselves and not depend on you.
"If you've never been a morning person, now is the time to practice getting up early," advised contributor Michaele Charles in the article, 6 Tips to Get You Mentally Prepared for College. "If you are bad at budgeting, laundry or cooking, don't wait until adulthood to learn."
Encourage your college-bound child to prepare meals for the family or come with you during trips to the grocery store. This can help your young person become familiar with meal planning and budgeting. If your child is taking a car to school, be sure he or she knows the basic rules for maintenance and repairs.
Allow them to be independent
This means more than just letting them do what they want. Independence means taking responsibility for yourself. After always having Mom and Dad watch their back, they need to understand that they need to manage themselves. They are responsible for their grades, how they manage their time, their job; all of those things are now up to them to maintain. They will learn to understand and appreciate what being independent means.
Despite this new adventure, remind your child that a reliable support system is still in place when needed. "The first semester or year of college can be overwhelming in good and bad ways, and you may sometimes need people outside of your college friends and classmates to talk to," explained Charles. "Even if you're eager to be on your own, stay in touch with the people in your life who have your best interests at heart and are there for you when you need support."
When I signed my first lease for an apartment, I didn't get a copy of the contract until the office sent it to me because I didn't know I needed to get a copy that same day for my own protection. My dad flipped. "How do you not know to do that?" My response was, "Just because something may be common sense to you, doesn't mean it makes sense to me." There are certain things you don't want your kids to find out the hard way.
"Kids need clear guidelines about what your expectations are, and without these being spelled out, disasters can occur," warned Clinical Psychologist Ruth A. Peters, Ph.D., in the article, How to Get Your Teen Ready For College. "Now, not after a disastrous month or two, is the time to discuss your expectations with your child."
Help them pay for school
My parents told me they would help me pay for my first two years of college, and after that I was on my own. This was a big wakeup call for me because I had to find a way to come up with my tuition. I never realized how expensive college was until I had to foot the bill.
I thank my parents for doing this for me because it forced me to grow up in a way that encouraged success while avoiding an overwhelming financial situation that may have discouraged my progress.
It can be tough for a young adult to adapt to college life. Being on your own, being responsible for yourself, and being expected to figure your whole life out can be overwhelming. As parents, you need to be supportive and helpful, but remember that your goal is to make them into strong independent young men and women. By showing them how to do things, allowing them to be independent, and helping them when they need it, you can make college a much happier and useful experience for your children.