New Year’s Resolutions for College Parents – and Their College Students

OK, have you ever had the same resolution for more than one year? You know you have . . . Sometimes it’s because you just didn’t make it happen last time – and sometimes it’s because it’s such a good resolution that you need it again.

This year we’re revisiting some resolutions for college parents and for their students that we posted way back in 2009. We’ve updated some – life has moved on after all.  And some are just gems that should still be on our resolution list.

We invite you to take a few minutes to review our list, adopt some suggestions, and add a few of your own.  The New Year is a time for new beginnings, so whether you’re about to be a college parent,  you’re a new college parent, or you’ve been at this for a while, it’s the time of year to take stock and make a fresh start. And don’t forget to share a few of these with your student as well.  A new year also brings a new semester for many students – the perfect time for their fresh start as well.

For college parents

  • Resolve to work harder at the “letting go” process. We know it’s hard, but work to remind yourself that your student is becoming the independent individual that you want her to be.  Call a bit less.  Text a bit less.  Encourage her to make her own decisions – and then respect them when she does.  Sometimes, it means biting your tongue.
  • Resolve to meet all deadlines on time. Pay tuition bills on time.  File the FAFSA early (Is it done yet?).  Make housing deposit on time.  Make Family Weekend reservations or Commencement reservations early. Less stress for everyone.
  • Resolve to accept the changes in your student. Enjoy the adult he is becoming and the independence he is showing. Help him forge ahead and embrace his own path.
  • Resolve not to ask your student whether she’s found a summer job, or chosen her major, or what she’ll do after she graduates. At least, don’t ask as often as you might like or feel you should.
  • Resolve to spend more time listening to your student this year – really listening – between the lines. Remember that listening doesn’t always require a response or that you have an answer. Sometimes, you just need to listen and/or be a sounding board.
  • Resolve to trust the values you have taught your student as you raised him. Look for signs of those values in his actions. You may be surprised to see more than you expect.
  • Resolve to talk to your student about finances this year. Let her be part of the planning for tuition bills, loans, scholarships.  Help her understand the bigger picture. But help give her the tools to manage her own finances as well.  Talk about expenses and make sure she knows how to create a budget. Then, once you’ve shared the tools, let her manage on her own.
  • Resolve to do something new for yourself this year. Take up a new hobby, nurture yourself.  Explore old or new interests.  Let your student see you as a role model.
  • Resolve to review and/or rethink your ultimate goals for your college student. What do you really want for him from his college experience?  Is it all in his GPA?  Does it involve a career?  Life satisfaction?  Fulfillment?  Think big picture and long-term.
  • Resolve to tell your college student as often as you can that you are proud of her and you know she’s accomplishing great things.

For college students

  • Resolve to get out of the residence hall and get more involved on campus this semester. Join a club, take on a leadership role, attend lectures and performances, participate in a rally.
  • Resolve to adopt some new study habits – and to improve your class attendance this semester. Even if you’re doing well, there’s almost always room for improvement.
  • Resolve to make this a healthy semester – eat well, exercise more, definitely get more sleep, drink responsibly.
  • Resolve to control your screen time. Make sure it is balanced with your other activities.
  • Resolve to create – and try to stick to – a budget. Keep track of where your money goes.  Feel in control.
  • Resolve to take a new look at your Facebook page/Twitter feed/Instragram account. Is it something you want future employers to see?  Do you need to do some tidying up?
  • Resolve to keep the drama in perspective. There’s always drama.  Don’t get involved in residence hall soap operas.  Keep rumors under control. Walk away when necessary.
  • Resolve to tackle whatever monster is threatening you. Is it time management?  Is it drinking or drugs?  Is it romantic or sexual relationships?  Is it your friends?  Is it partying?  Is it academics? Is it general stress and/or anxiety?  Whatever it is, name it – then you’ll be ready to tackle it.
  • Resolve to reevaluate your friendships and habits. These are often formed in the first few weeks of school.  Now that you know more people and you know more about college, consider whether you need to make some changes. If you do, move on.  If not, let your friends know how much you appreciate them.
  • Resolve to challenge yourself – comfortably – in some area of your life. What can you do to stretch yourself this year?

We hope that these are some useful resolutions – for any time of the year.  Good luck!

Happy New Year!


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