The summer before your student heads off to college is exciting, busy, and stressful. There’s lots to do — forms to complete, finances to consider, orientations to attend, shopping to do. Your student may have a job and is also busy trying to spend time with his friends. Communication with your student may have its wonderful moments, and may also be strained. Be prepared. You feel it is your last chance to impart your wisdom, and he is increasingly anxious to be independent.
The process of heading off to college — for both your student and for you — is filled with expectations. However, your expectations and your student’s expectations may not be the same. Use the summer months to talk about those expectations. Clear the air — and avoid difficult situations later when you realize that you, or he, made some assumptions. Good communication now will lay the foundation for quality communication later.
Here are ten conversations to consider before your student leaves for school. Don’t try to cover them all at once, but touch on some of these topics.
What are your student’s reasons for going to college?
This may sound like a strange question. You and your student have spent the last several years working at getting into college. You made the college visits, your student took SAT’s or ACT’s, he planned his high school schedule carefully, you filled out stacks of financial forms, he filled out applications and wrote essays, he waited for those acceptances and wrestled with decisions. But in spite of all of the work you’ve both done to get him here, have you had a conversation with him about why he wants to go to college? Does he have a goal? Is he focused on a major or a job? Is he looking for a social outlet? Is he going primarily for athletics? Is he going to college because it’s the logical next step? There is no right answer, but it helps to know why you’re going and what you want. As you talk about this question, you may learn a lot about him — and he may learn some things about himself.