Sending your child off to college can be an exciting, and anxious, time for you. On one hand, you are probably thrilled that your baby graduated and is on their way to the next chapter of their life. On the other, you may be nervous that your child is going away from home and may not easily adjust to the increased level of responsibility they will have. I get it. Not only is college a different level of academic rigor, but it also requires your student to be solely responsible for managing their time, figure out professional and personal relationships, and advocate for themselves. If they are living on campus, whether in-town or not, forget it. Can they do it?
I’m here to tell you, of course they can. What you’ve done to this point has prepared your student to go out into the world of post-secondary education armed with the tools they need to take care of themselves. Right? Of course. Now, that’s not say that your baby will do everything right the first time. Will they make mistakes? Sure. Will they call you when they are uncertain? Maybe. Does that mean they can’t cut it? No. They, and you, are adjusting to being a different mental and physical space, which comes with its own set of challenges. What you do, or don’t do, can make all the difference in how well your student makes the shift from high school to college. The question you have to ask yourself is, Am I a college ready parent?
Being a college ready parent is just as important as sending a college ready student off to school. Getting college ready as a parent means coming to terms with your own mixed bag of feelings about your child enrolling in college. Although you want them to spread their wings, you have an idea of how well they can fly and you may want to guide them just a little longer. Go with the former and trust that you’ve given them all they need to take on college life.
So here’s what you do . . . You acknowledge that your student is shifting into adulthood, allowing them to handle most situations themselves, but offering a bit of guidance. As situations arise, default to encouraging your student to advocate for themselves. It takes a lot of restraint not to fix your student’s issues, but resist the urge. We’re creating independent, self-reliant adults, right? Right. One of the most important things you can do is acknowledge and own your feelings in all of this. With love, support, and realistic goals, you can make it as painless as possible while honoring the new phase of life that you are all entering. You can find support in other college parents, through existing friendships or other avenues, like Facebook. It takes a village goes both ways. Find your village.
Being a college ready parent doesn’t happen overnight. It may take baby steps, but you’ll get there. Going to college truly is a family affair and the better prepared you are for the shift in responsibility and communication, the easier the transition will be. Work with your student as everyone adjusts to the new dynamic and lean on those who have been there before you. You got this!