Education, Family Life

Time for College? How to Prepare

The moment has finally arrived. After 18 years of raising your child to be a responsible, studious, and hardworking young adult, you now get to see them walk across that stage, receive their high school diploma, and prepare for college. This very happy moment can quickly turn sad when you realize that this means your child will soon be leaving your home and entering a life on a college campus that is filled with so many potential dangers and uncertainties. How can any parent go to bed at night knowing that their child isn’t safe and sound under their roof? Fear not, though–coming up with a plan ahead of time to cope emotionally as well as preparing yourself mentally can go a long way when you are about to send your kids off to college.

Facing Reality
The first thing you need to do is accept reality. Your children, though they will always be your kids, are young adults now. Your role in their life will change. This doesn’t mean that you are no longer their parent and have no say in their lives anymore. That much will never change no matter what stage of life they are in. Things just won’t look the same as they did in grade school. You’re used to cheering them on and playing a much more active role in their education as well as their lives. For some parents, this looked like bringing them to and from school, to and from practice, attending sporting events and performances, meeting all of their friends, and regularly meeting with teachers and being kept in the loop to ensure that their child was receiving a proper education. 

Well, now they are in college, so give yourself some credit for that! You have worked your entire kid’s life to get them to this point, and they have finally made it! All those nights spent instilling a sense of work ethic and responsibility have finally paid off. This is not a goodbye to your child but to the way of life with them that you have grown increasingly comfortable with their entire childhood. Instead of trying to hold onto this way of living, you should embrace this new role. Don’t let your want to hold on to this role keep you from remaining part of your child’s life. Instead, face reality and happily accept that role as you will see that doing so gives an opportunity for both sides to be happy. They will feel a sense of freedom as you have given them space to make their own decisions, their own mistakes, pursue their own dreams, and ultimately to reach out to you when they need to. 

Devising a Plan
As with any dire situation, planning ahead can go a long way in ensuring a smooth transition from life with your child to life without as they embark on their college careers. In their later years of high school, you must start teaching them how to remain somewhat independent by walking them through basic things in life, such as how to fill any medications, how to schedule a doctor’s appointment, what to do in an emergency situation, how to prepare for college courses, car maintenance, and basic kitchen skills. Knowing that your child knows how to take care of themselves helps to ease the worry in a couple months when they are off on their own. You will feel much more comfortable away from your child knowing that they know how to take care of themselves.

In addition to this, pick up some new activities and hobbies yourself or even think back to what you liked to do before you became a parent. There may even be relationships that you want to give more attention to, whether that be old friends, family, or a spouse. That will help to redirect your attention now that your child is out of the house. You should also devise a plan to actually see your child periodically throughout their college career. Most colleges have family weekends dedicated to this, so take advantage of it. It is also good to take into consideration breaks and holidays as times where they can come home.

Staying in touch is a great way to lessen any worry or emotional toil having your child away at college can cause. Agreeing beforehand and coming up with a plan to regularly keep in contact can help to emotionally prepare yourself to send your child off to college. With this being said, you do not want to become too overbearing. Spontaneous phone calls are great, but be weary of timing. I know that personally, while I was in college, these types of calls during exam week and work, though appreciated, distracted me from important things. 

So, before your child leaves for college, sit down and have a conversation on what works for everyone. Everybody is different, so you may very well end up with a very spontaneous child who loves these kinds of calls. That is why sitting down and discussing this topic is so important. You can figure out what exactly works best. Having a plan to keep in touch regularly will help to ease any potential worries you may have, and you will have something that you can look forward to.

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