College Parent? Inspiration for Your New Coaching Role

If you’re a new college parent, you’re shifting to a new role as a sideline coach: still involved in your student’s life and success, but with a new approach.  It’s time to get inspired about your new role!

Many of the world’s greatest athletes credit their success to the influence of their coaches.  They recognize that, while they may have certain abilities, they need the teaching, insight, and training that a quality coach can provide.    You may have thought of yourself in this role before –  or this may be a new image for you.  Either way, let’s explore some of the wisdom of the world’s greatest coaches and consider what it means to be a great coach.

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Your Role As a College Parent: Sideline Coach

As your child heads off to college, you are probably experiencing many emotions.  That is only natural.  It means that you recognize the enormity of the step that your child is taking.  Remember how it felt when he headed to kindergarten, or got behind the wheel of the car for the first time?  In many ways, this new phase is similar.

It is important to remember that this is a new stage for you as well as for your student.  As the parent of a college freshman, your role is changing in significant ways.  We’re often so busy focusing on our student that we forget that this is a transition for us as well.

Your coaching role

If your student is going to be living away from home, you know that your home-life will be different – more food, less laundry, more quiet, fewer dirty dishes.  You’ll no longer be in the middle of it all with the action swirling around you.

So you now have a choice.  You can feel lost and useless, or you can embrace your new role – as coach.  Like any good coach, there comes a time to step back and observe the results of your hard work.

No matter how important the “big game” is, the coach is on the sidelines.  No matter how much he may want to, the coach can’t play the game for the players.  But if the coach has done his work in the pre-season, during all of those long practice hours, the players know what to do on the field.  As a parent, we need to know that we’ve done our “pre-season” work.  We need to trust our student to get onto the field and play the game.

We also need to remember that the coach has a job to do on the sidelines of the game. The players need him there. The coach gives suggestions about plays, congratulates and supports, scolds, cajoles, and sometimes registers displeasure.  The coach is involved in the game, even though he’s not on the field.

And sometimes, the coach needs to take the player into the locker room and give him a talking to so the player will “shape up” and play the rest of the game differently.

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Should My Student Consider Taking a Gap Year Before Starting College?

If your student is considering taking a gap year, you should also read our post on deferring enrollment.

The majority of students move smoothly from high school to college.  College is the normal “next step” in the educational process.  For some students, however, that “next step” just doesn’t seem quite right, at least not just now.  It’s not that they don’t want to go to college, it is just that they may feel the need to do something before entering college.  For these students, a gap year may be the answer.

A gap year, sometimes called a year out, or year off, or bridging year, is a transition year, usually between high school and college, when the student takes time to do something else.  Although it is still the exception in the United States for students to take a gap year, it is a growing trend.  Some programs which target gap year students are seeing as much as 15-20% growth.  The National Association for College Admission Counseling has suggested that the practice of taking a gap year is on the rise.

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Should My Student Consider Deferring Enrollment for College?

Your “almost” college student has been accepted to college.  Congratulations!  That is cause for celebration – and probably some relief.  But your student isn’t sure that beginning college just now is the right thing for him.  Some students may decide to defer their enrollment for a year (or even two) after they have been accepted.  You may wonder what this means and how to go about it.

A student may decide to defer enrollment for any number of reasons.  He may wish to travel or study abroad, to work to earn money to pay for tuition, to take a year to pursue a sport or hobby.  The student may have health or family issues that need to be addressed, she may decide to take an extra, post-graduate year of study to increase skills or gain maturity, or the student may simply need a break from school in order to recharge and find focus.

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Why Summer Orientation Is Important for Your College Freshman

If your student’s college provides a summer orientation session for incoming students, your student should definitely plan to attend.  At many colleges summer orientation is mandatory, and for good reason.  Although your student has probably visited the campus during the selection process, perhaps multiple times, this may be your student’s first introduction to the college as an official student.  They will look at the school differently, will be treated differently, and both they and the school may have different expectations than when they visited as an applicant.

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College Parent Orientation: A Key Beginning

Most colleges hold orientation sessions for incoming students – whether a day long event or an overnight during the summer, or an event held a few days before the semester starts in the fall.  However, many colleges now also offer orientations for the parents of those college students.  This may be a day long event or even an overnight event.  If your child’s college conducts an orientation for parents, you should definitely take advantage of it if possible.

Holding a special orientation for parents is recognition on the part of many colleges of the importance of your continued role in your student’s education.  Colleges hold these orientation sessions to help you learn more about how you can most productively help your student, and to help you learn more about the place where your son or daughter will be spending so much time.

Reasons why you should attend Parent Orientation

There are several important reasons to attend the Parent Orientation session offered by your child’s school.

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Yes, You’re a College Parent, but What Exactly Does That Mean?

This is the second of two posts which consider your college student and what she may be experiencing in the transition to college; and what your new role may be in the college experience.

In our last post, we considered some characteristics of the new college student in your family.  In this post, let’s think a bit about your new role as a college parent.

This is a transitional time for everyone.

Your student is not the only one who is going through a transitional time.  Sometimes we become so focused on the changes that are occurring for our student, that we forget that changes will be occurring for us as well.  Or perhaps we are all too well aware of the changes that will be taking place in our lives, and we need to put things in perspective.

Remembering that this is a time of transition for everyone is helpful.  Because your student may be feeling stress as he heads off to college, he may try your patience.  Recognizing why this is happening helps.  It also may help to recognize that your patience may be a bit shorter than usual because you are stressed as well.  If this is your first child to go to college, you may be working hard to keep up with all of the necessary paperwork, and finances, and new terms, and necessary shopping and logistics. You may be wondering what life at home will be like without him there.   If this is your last child to go to college, you will definitely be facing some changes at home, and this can be both emotional and stressful.

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Yes, You’re a College Parent, But Who Is This College Student?

This is the first of two posts which consider your college student, what she may be experiencing in the transition to college, and what your new role may be in the college experience.

You may be here because you have a son or daughter in college now or about to enter college. This blog is designed to give you information, and food for thought, about the experience of being the parent of a college student.

It’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s begin in a general way by thinking about who this college student is, and what your role in this college experience might be.

This college student is the son or daughter you’ve raised.

First and foremost, this student headed off on this grand and scary adventure called college is the son or daughter you raised. Although it sometimes feels as though you may not know or understand his behavior, you’ve had many years to instill important values and teach life lessons. Your student will take to college with him the tool chest of lessons, experiences and values you’ve given him. Trust him. Trust the years you’ve spent with him.

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