Young men and women get into college when they are starting to undergo a series of significant physical, social, and emotional changes. During late adolescence, these students are concerned with establishing independence and occupational identity. Issues of personal morality and creating a code of values also become more critical. The switch to college offers a fresh environment and a living scenario that supports these processes.
That said, the changes that typify transition to college life are seldom smooth and may necessitate some form of adjustment in parenting skills. It is usual for young college students to go through mood swings, oscillating between being very excited at one moment and feel like dropping out at another. Also, students may get homesick during their freshman year. Some may not visit home as much as their parents like as a way of showing independence.
As a parent, you have a job of supporting your student with support and offering them a feeling of security as they acclimatize with their new surroundings. You need to balance your need to maintain contact and control the growing independence that your student is starting to acquire. It all seems confusing, and this is why we have created this article. Here, we outline things parents shouldn’t do concerning their college students.
Do Not Pick Their Major for Them
One of the most critical decisions for college students is choosing their majors. According to a recent survey, most students find choosing their majors challenging, with 51 percent lacking confidence in their preferred career path by the time they enroll in college. This could be one of the reasons why some parents feel that they need to choose majors for their children, assuming that they know what is best.
There is no doubt that all parents want what is best for their kids. However, the moment one becomes a parent, life becomes more than just what is good for oneself. Whatever you may have considered pleasurable in the past now takes a backseat compared to the child’s needs.
It becomes a habit for parents to slip into the notion that they know what is best for their children regardless of the issue. However, this will not always be true.
It can be challenging for parents and students to cut the cord when faced with the critical decision of picking a major. Some parents find it ideal to start a conversation about college majors early on, allowing students time to think about options and explore ideas. Others may face the need to impose a major on their kids.
Often, the interest and preferences of the parent may not align with those of the student. For example, your student may have a passion for poetry, but you don’t think that line of work will pay the bills. In the end, some parents get torn between offering true independence to their students and guiding them towards better job prospects.
Some jobs offer a promise of better remuneration once obtained, making them ideal choices for most parents. However, the courses required tend to be difficult, making them a nuisance for students, hence the need for MBA essay services. Moreover, it can be challenging for the learners to reconcile their passion and realize that the preferred field may not provide the necessary financial security after graduation.
While the parent may have the student’s interest at heart, the learner will attend the classes. Also, the job market has gone through numerous changes in terms of workforce structure and job requirements. That said, parents cannot be expected to become passive spectators in the lives of their children. The ideal situation is that picking a college major should be the outcome of honest and open discussion.
As a parent, don’t guilt your student into joining a specific school or organization. Instead, offer guidance, but allow the students to explore their unique interests and build meaningful connections.
Don’t Ridicule Their New Ideas and Passions
As a parent of a college student, you should encourage creativity, which involves using imagination and ideas to develop something of value. Throughout your student’s education, creativity will play an essential role in success and development. Creativity is nurtured and is often a result of a way of thinking rather than innate talent.
As your student sets off for college, they will come back to you with new ideas and passions. Some of these may be scary to you as a parent, especially when they don’t fit in the vision you have for your student. That said, expect your college student to meet new challenges, participate in new activities, and develop new interests. If done right, the new experiences will change who your student is as a person somehow.
Some of the new passions may not seem ideal to you, but you should avoid ridiculing them. Some of them may be periodical and will pass after some time. But, even if they don’t pass, you have succeeded in raising an independent individual capable of charting their path.
Avoid Begging Them to Come Home Frequently
Many college students struggle with homesickness, while others treasure the new independence and want to spend more time on their own once they have gone to college. However, according to a recent survey, more than 30 percent of college students experience low-level homesickness. In other words, homesickness is a regular occurrence.
That said, connecting with the new college environment is essential for your student to build a new home feeling. It would help if you encouraged the student to explore new exciting clubs or hobbies. As a parent, you ought to offer reassurance whenever your student calls. From time to time, the learner will need to hear a familiar voice.
However, no matter how much you feel your student wishes to return home, avoid allowing too many trips back home. Most parents make the mistake of allowing their homesick sons and daughters to visit home too often. When the student travels home every weekend, it can be harmful to their chances of overcoming homesickness.
How will the student concur homesickness when they are always home whenever they get the opportunity? Moreover, asking students to come home at every opportunity could be depriving them of opportunities to make social, intellectual, and emotional connections with their campuses.
While letting go may seem complicated, don’t let your student visit home too regularly. You could set a weekend each month when the student can visit and spend time with the family.
Another mistake that parents make is not keeping their distance and failing to give the students space for self-exploration. In the same breadth, visiting your student on-campus too often will not help them adapt to their new environments. Of course, if your son or daughter studies close by, there may be the temptation to be with them every weekend. Avoid this as it could be detrimental to their ability to connect with their new college. You could go out with them to dinner once in a while, but give them some space to grow.
Here are a few additional tips on how to help with homesickness:
- Recognize that feeling homesick is temporary and regular;
- Maintain open lines of communication with your student;
- Encourage the student to create new traditions to make campus life feel like home;
- Help the student set expectations for the college experience.
Avoid Fixing Their Problems for Them
As a parent, you may be used to keeping tabs on your student and checking in with teachers to assess progress. You may also be tempted to ask for feedback from professors. However, you have to understand that, in college, professors will not give you information regarding your student’s progress. Furthermore, there are legal ramifications for doing so.
You may also have been used to calling the school to check on disciplinary issues. However, college students are expected to work out their problems and seek out support during distress. Trying to help your student will likely meet hesitance or resistance from the institution. Being too concerned about your child’s welfare will not work with the university. It also means that the college may become hesitant to help the student because the parent always tries to fix problems.
So, as a parent, if your style demands explanations of grades and consulting on disciplinary issues, it may be time to take a backseat. Instead, allow your student to learn how to handle challenges on their own.
You may have to accept that your student will likely make a few mistakes and experience some failures. However, all this is a part of learning and growth. After all, challenges build resilience, which is a desired attribute in the employment world.
Instead of always trying to fix problems for your student, train them and guide them in problem-solving. Communicate with your son or daughter frequently and share concerns. You could also help your student to brainstorm solutions to some challenges. Even when checking in the face of challenges, let the student play a leading role rather than pestering them with questions.
Also, avoid the following:
- Speaking for them, including posing as them using their email accounts;
- Being overbearing and not giving them space to struggle;
- Checking in every other day;
- Constantly asking about grades;
- Reacting to their emotions.
Bottom Line: How to Parent a College Student
Parenting a college student can be challenging as one is torn between giving room for independence and offering the required support. However, understand that your student is growing and changing, and your role should be to allow them to become a responsible and functional adult. So, back off a little and allow the students to have their way. It may be challenging for some time, but this is important for the growth of your son or daughter.