There’s something about the New Year. It is a time of reflection, thinking about the year that has just gone by. And it is also a time of hope, thinking ahead about what the New Year might bring. Somehow, life seems full of possibility at the beginning of a new year.
If you have a student in college, or one who will be heading to college soon, there’s a lot of transition going on in the life of your family. Your student is looking forward and preparing for their future. You are preparing too, while you also may be reflecting and remembering that kindergarten child just beginning school. Where did the time go?
As we turn the page on a new year, we’d like to offer some resolutions for parents of high school and college students. Take time to reflect, and to imagine into the future. Use this list as a springboard for your own ideas of how to approach the New Year.
- Resolve to do less – Do less for your student. Use the new year as an opportunity to help your student grow their independence. Remember that the college admission process and the college experience belong to your student. Be supportive, be there, but when it comes to applications, essays, resumes, college visits, or college assignments, dealing with professors, making college phone calls – even getting up on time in the morning . . . let your student own their experience.
- Resolve to do more – Not for your student, but do more for yourself. Take time for yourself. Take time for a bit of self-care. Start a new hobby. Take time with friends. Begin to take your interests to the next level to prepare yourself for your empty nest. Yes, you’ll still miss your student, but have a plan in place for filling your time.
- Resolve to take the long view – Take time to think about your long-term goals for yourself and for your student. Yes, admission matters, grades matter, honors and scholarships matter, getting a good job matters. But think about the bigger picture for your student as well. Think about what you can do now to help your student grow, help your student gain independence, define and reach their own goals. What kind of life do you imagine for your student in the future? What kind of life do they imagine?
- Resolve to model perspective – Model ways to de-stress about the college decision making process. Help your student keep the admission process and the decision in perspective. Encourage your student to take ownership of the process and then step back. Make sure you find things to talk to your student about besides college applications and admission. Find other topics for your conversations with other parents.
- Resolve to have real conversations – So often when we “talk” to our students, we do most of the talking. Remember that a good conversation is built on sensitive listening as well. Sometimes the listening may be all that your student needs from you. Listen carefully to what your student has to say. Ask questions – and then really hear the answers. Listen between the lines. Think about the topics you want to discuss with your student as they head to college – finances, safety, sex, alcohol, drugs, grades, concerns (both yours and theirs) but make sure you have real conversations about them, not lectures. You may be surprised at how well received these conversations are when they are real.
Some of these resolutions may feel like a tall order. Some will take time to develop. Some may not feel right for you. But we offer these as food for thought as you look forward and think about the year ahead. Enjoy your college parent role as you watch, and encourage, your student’s growth and independence.
And one bonus resolution – Resolve to listen to the new College Parent Podcast. This is our new adventure for 2020. We will continue to explore more college parent topics throughout the new year. We hope you’ll join us!
Happy New Year!!