College Parents: Use the Summer Before Freshman Year Wisely

It’s been a long journey getting your almost college student ready for freshman year.  You’ve helped and supported through the testing, the college visits, the applications, the acceptance or rejection letters, and the final decision.  But you know that your work isn’t done.  The summer before that first year of college is a busy and stressful one — for everyone involved.  Your student may be focused and organized, or he may seem uninterested in the transition about to take place.

As a college parent, you know that you are going to need to step back and let your student take control of her college experience.  Yet, you want her to start of on the right foot — excited and prepared.  As always, the key is helping your student prepare.  Encourage your student to take the lead, and resist the temptation to handle things yourself.  This is your student’s opportunity to become increasingly self-sufficient.

We’ve gathered here some previous posts about things you can do this summer to help the transition go well.  Think about how you and your college student can work together to prepare for those first steps during the freshman year.

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Your Five Most Important Jobs as a College Parent

Being a college parent is hard work.  Sometimes it is difficult work because of the amount of things that you need to do and because you need to be very involved.  But sometimes, being a college parent is hard work because of what you need not to do.  Sometimes the hard work is standing back and allowing your student to take control of the experience.

But just because you need to stand back and let your student be in the driver’s seat, doesn’t mean that you, as a college parent, are not involved.  Although you may be on the sidelines of this experience, you can still be present, needed, and very much part of the fabric of the experience.  The involvement may, however, be more subtle (and therefore, in some ways more difficult) than you anticipated.

We’d like to suggest five important jobs for college parents.  You may not do all jobs equally well.  You may not need to tackle some jobs as much as others.  You may need to experiment and practice some skills before you become proficient at them.  But we’d like to suggest that you have five important tasks as a college parent.

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What’s Ahead For Your College Student? The Four Year Journey

As you send your high school student off for their freshman year of college and you worry about how they will manage, it is almost impossible to imagine the college senior that you will have in four years.  It may help to remind yourself of the child who began high school four years earlier.  Could you have imagined then, what they would be like four years later as they graduated from high school?

Students mature during their college years, not only because times passes, but because they experience many different influences and demands.  We’ve discussed in many posts the importance of helping your college student learn to advocate and take responsibility for their actions and decisions.  It is not always an easy thing for us, as parents, to remember the important long-term goals over the immediate impulse to ”fix” any problems.

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How Does Your Student Feel? Four Keys to Emotional Intelligence.

Your college student will probably run the gamut of emotions during their time in college.  They may even run through many emotions in a single day.  As a college parent, you may hear about your student’s highs and lows, or you may be unaware of some of the dips and turns.  It is possible that you may feel that your student needs help coping, and you may find yourself offering advice or recommending that they get some help from someone such as a counselor. For most students, however, handling emotional swings becomes part of the college experience.

How well your student handles their emotions may be one indicator, however, of their potential success in college.  Some research in Emotional Intelligence suggests that students who recognize and manage their moods, feelings and attitudes well may do better academically.  The more closely your student is in touch with their emotions, the better they may do.

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