As kids settle into to their first few weeks as college students and transitioning into their new independent lives, their parents are also experiencing a transition, marking a new period in their relationship with their children.
While they still need their mom and dad, new college students are relishing being in charge of their own lives for the first time. But the likelihood of the situation is that parents are more worried now about their kids then they were when they were toddlers, just learning to explore their world for the first time.
Here are 15 thoughts every parent has when their kids go off to college.
15 Will they get along with their roommates?
One of the biggest stressors for college students is navigating their new living situation. Many have never shared a room before, much less a room with a complete stranger. Will they be able to get along? Are their sleeping and living styles similar? Will there be an issue where parents will have to step in and diffuse?
Sharing a room is the first and biggest obstacle college students navigate during their first days on campus. Although the reality of the initial situation looks bleak to parents, it doesn’t have to be. Many campuses match students of like interests and majors together as a way to diffuse any potential problems. Remember when you were sent to elementary school and you had differences with someone? You worked it out eventually. Be confident that they will as well.
14 Will they make friends with “good” kids?
Let’s face it: college kids are all basically good kids. There is the select few that were probably rotten before they got there, but for the most part, they’re all kids who are trying to spread their wings and learn how to live life independently from their parents.
Your son or daughter will find the “right” friends in college the same way they did in high school. Will they find some clunkers? Yes. Will they fall into different social scenes where they might not be with the most stellar types the university has to offer? Absolutely. But giving them a chance to figure it out on their own and realizing you have given them a good foundation will allow them to know who will be.
13 Will they find something they love and make a career of it?
According to a survey from CareerBuilder, adults never work in the field that they prepared for in college. Among the workers surveyed, 47 percent of college graduates did not find a first job that was related to their college major. Plus, 32 percent of college grads said that they had never worked in a field related to their majors.
So although many will pursue a career in their chosen major, think of college as a way to feel out the great big world without being directly involved in it. Students can see what fields they are interested in and try them out, kind of like serial dating, until they find a good fit. Once they do, hopefully, they will be able to make a career out of their newfound passion.
12 Will they have safe and happy experiences?
There have been too many stories in the news about unsafe situations our children are involved in while in college. The news is full of tales of the best party schools and the unsafe circumstances students are involved in. Today’s students are exposed to much more and much faster than their parents ever were.
Parents worry that not only will their kids be put in situations they may not be able to handle, they also are worried that there could be a potential danger for their kids due to excessive drinking and drugs. “We don’t say, ‘don’t drink,’” said a college academic advisor to The New York Times. “We say, ‘If you drink, here are some of the possible problems. [sic] kids in classes, but these are the same skills they will use the rest of their lives to be safe.’”
11 Will they grow in confidence as individuals?
College is a time for children to find out who they really are and what they’re made of as adults. Parents coddle their children for years, helping them through school, relationships, friendships, and work issues. Upon entering college, it’s the first time young adults are on their own.
Parents hope their children grow in confidence as individuals. Not just as someone’s kid or another person’s sibling. College should allow kids to finally be able to make their mark as their own individual person and become confident that they can tackle issues such as homework, studying, and making time for responsible partying. Kids need to learn to come out of their family’s shadow and grow on their own to make their own mark in the world as individuals.
10 You hope they really enjoy their college years
Of course, after all the worrying, the one thing parents truly want is for their child to enjoy their college years. No one wants to hear their child talk about how miserable they are and how much they wish they were home. College is a rite of passage for most children and helps form them into adults.
The four years between freshman and senior year is a period of rapid growth for kids. They go from hard-partying freshman with a taste of freedom to seniors with a sense of purpose (well, most of them do). The kid you send off at 18 will be radically different by the time they are 21. Although college might not be for everyone, encourage your kids to push themselves to be present in college. Join clubs, meet people, don’t work so much if they commute to school. Make every moment count because it’s their last taste of true freedom before the real world begins.
9 You worry that they can away from the drama
Ideally parents would love to think that their kids are all about studying, working hard, and getting good grades when it comes to college. Yes, most kids strive for excellence while obtaining their degree. But there is still plenty of drama that goes along with these four years and the best advice given to parents is the same that applied in high school: don’t get caught up in the drama.
Particularly in freshman year, their emotions will likely be all over the place, just as they were in high school. Until teens are settled in, keep the lines of communication open. Remember, you are their cornerstone. They need you to stay steady and unemotional and reassure them that they are capable of handling this big change, because there are many big ups and downs coming their way.
8 How will you handle them being gone?
There will be plenty of times when you linger in the doorway of their room and see a small child lying in their bed, cuddling their favorite stuffed animals. You will mourn the hugs and kisses, the big and little moments that come with the daily grind of being a parent. You will know that they will be okay and both of you are going through a period of adjustment.
Yes, the college years feel a little like death to parents. It’s the death of the little boy or girl you once knew as they become the adult they need to be. But on the other hand, there’s the birth of a new adult relationship you both get to look forward to. Missing their physical presence is normal. Begin a relationship with your kid in their own world. Learn how to text or Snapchat. Tweet them things you think they’ll be interested in. They will respond and you’ll surprisingly feel closer even when you’re far away.
7 What if they get sick?
Of course parents, will always wonder what they will do if their children get sick, particularly if their college is far away. Checking out the school infirmary is the first way to put parent’s minds at ease and find out how they plan to take care of the kids in case they get sick.
One of the biggest gifts you can give your child is a copy of your health insurance card and the addresses of the nearest doctor or clinic in case they need it. Many times, children would rather forge a relationship with a doctor than their school nurse. Giving them a safe place to go if they don’t feel well will also help foster their independence and also, provide them with a feeling of home by having a familiar face they can rely on if they need be. For girls, finding a local gynecologist is also key in case there are any female health issues they need addressed while they are away.
6 What if they find themselves in a situation they can’t control?
Prior to their leaving, sit down with your teens and talk about any scenarios they might encounter that has you worried. This may open them up to discussing with you possible situations they might be worried about as well, such as safety issues.
When visiting the campus with your child, explain to them the safe places they can go to in case something happens to them while they are away. Discuss with them how to avoid certain situations. How to go about creating designated friends to help each other out while at parties. Introduce them to the adults in charge of their dorms. Find out who will be supervising your kids. Most of all, tell them to get out of any situation they ever feel unsafe in and to never roam around campus by themselves and to call you and know you will be there for them.
5 If they drink too much and need help, where can they turn?
Are their dorm floor advisors at their campus? Will there be a campus transportation system they can turn to for a ride in case they are somewhere and too drunk to get themselves home?
Psychology Today reported that parents should always maintain contact with their kids and keep the lines of communication open, even if its information they don’t truly want to hear. Pay attention to signs that your youngster is in trouble. Eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, failing grades, and other difficulties don't happen overnight and aren't a sign that a young man or woman is inadequate or bad. They are, however, signs of trouble and require adult intervention. Do not just "let it go." If your youngster is in trouble, letting go is not going to help him or her out of a sticky situation.
4 Do they have anyone they can talk to if they don't want to speak to you?
Is your child alone on a campus with no friends from their prior high school or college? Are they so far away that they don’t want to burden you with their problems? Thinking ahead towards tackling potential issues could help your child in the long run as they navigate the social and emotional issues of being away from home for the first time.
Does their school have a counselor on hand? Is there someone accessible that’s their age they can confide in? These things are important for teens that are trying to cope with a lot of information, situations, and experiences in a short amount of time. The most important thing you can do is try to maintain communication with your college freshman, even if they don’t want to completely confide in you. Ask about classes, friends, professors, activities. Find out what they are eating and when they are sleeping. Prod, but with a gentle hand.
3 Are they emotionally ready to make a break from home?
High school seniors are the kings and queens of their domain. They feel entitled to act a bit naughtier than their freshman classmates. They may be going to parties more, spending nights away from home, testing their (and your) limits.
But despite all their insistence, are they truly emotionally ready to make a break from the comforts of home? There have been plenty of circumstances when kids who thought they could hack it away at college return home defeated and feel inferior when they have to attend a commuter college. Parents know their kids. If they think they are ready to move out and on their own at school, let them. But also let them know that they will be responsible for their own laundry, picking up their dorm room, and eating meals. If you don’t think they’re ready, suggest an online school until they feel they can handle being away. If they’re never ready, that’s okay, too. Each kid is different and will handle their college experience in their own way.
2 What will you do if they want to come home?
Parents greatest fear when dropping their kids off is that at one point, they will want to come home. Whether it is the fear of living away from home, loneliness, or overall emotional immaturity, at least one-quarter of parents will find themselves packing up their kids and moving them back home to go to a different school.
Listen to your son or daughter’s fears. Make sure that their reasons for wanting to come home are valid and not just because they miss their friends. Remind them of how excited they were when they learned they got into the school they selected. Most of all, remind them that what they are feeling is all part of maturing and learning to be on their own. If none of these resonate with them, then take them home, but make sure they are enrolled in another school quickly to ensure they finish their education.
1 Will I be able to see their grades to know how they’re really doing in class?
Guess what? Probably not. Big shock, right? Considering the amount of money parents are shelling out for education and the amount of student loans kids have to pay back once they graduate, it should be a given that parents should be able to keep tabs on their kids grades.
According to Today, colleges grant students privacy and it’s the law. You need permission from your child as an adult over the age of 18, to be able to see their grades. So unless you’re looking for a surprise at the end of the semester, find out what forms you have to sign and get them taken care of before they begin. Otherwise, you might be in for a big surprise at the end of the marking period when you realize your kid was lying to you the entire year.
Most of all, try to enjoy the college experience with your child and the transition from your relationship as parent and child to parent and adult child. Then, sit back and take the applause for the good job you’ve done.