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The Ten Things You MUST Do When Sending a Child To College

Offspring is 18 and off to college in a few days. As a mum, I’ve had many opportunities to ruin xyr life and character, the teen years, the tween years, the elementary school years, the toddler years, going right back to the foetus year. Now I discover that I have yet one more chance to fail my child completely and ruin xyr college career. Thank goodness I can avoid such a disaster by just following these ten simple rules.

(Everything below that is not in brackets is a direct, cut and paste, quote – from a variety of sources.)

1) Encourage your children to be purposeful about the college experience. Don’t let students waste it. They need to be reminded that it would be criminal to spend four years playing video games, getting drunk and shopping online. Encourage your kid to go see their professor. Encourage your children to find a major they love. Encourage your children to remember college is not just academics. Encourage your children to make new friends. Encourage your children to participate in transformational experiences. Encourage him to think about what he eats. Encourage him to get exercise. Encourage him to get sleep. Encourage your student to study during the day (between classes) rather than waiting until after dinner, when fatigue sets in and other students in the residence hall want to talk or do “something fun.” Avoid too much advice.



2) Your children are now adults. Don’t offer to help them. Let go. Their [sic] all big boys and girls now! Maturation is not an instantaneous or over-night process. Be patient. Read resource information sent to you by the college so you can be an informed coach for your child. As long as they’re not in danger, there’s no reason to become meddlesome (unless they ask). Find out what they are eating and when they are sleeping. When you are setting up a requirement such as that they get a job or cut back on partying, make it clear that this is not gentle guidance, but a specific demand. The National Survey of Student Engagement found that children of helicopter parents reported more satisfactory college experiences and gained more in areas of critical thinking and writing than did those whose parents were less likely to hover. Your child is now an adult, pursuing his or her own future. Don’t get in the way.



3) Ask them to call home once a week for the first month, then once every two weeks thereafter, as they become more immersed in college life. Initially a youngster needs less contact, but as the semester progresses and she feels more settled, she may want to talk more. If you are missing your daughter, then you do need to let go, but even then, for your child’s emotional health, you need to find a way to stay connected.



4) Resist the temptation to call. Keep your child informed about changes at home. College students want their parents to accept all the changes they are making but want everything at home to stay the same. Stay in touch (but not too much). Leave their bedroom alone. Give them a ‘safe haven.’ If he or she wants to come home for a visit, encourage that he or she stay on campus, instead. Tell your child ahead of time about family plans. Do not distract your child with winter vacation plans, worries about finances or what to major in, family events and celebrations, or other activities. Send care packages. Write, but don’t expect a reply. Ask questions (but not too many). Visit (but not too often). Be prepared for random phone calls and then quick hang ups. Send your child cards/notes/newspaper articles. All of this, compiled with unconditional love. It’s not all about them; it’s about you, too.



5) Bring 2 sets of sheets so your kid can throw out the first set sometime around January…we don’t wash them. They don’t need a broom, Swiffer or a vacuum cleaner. No one uses them. Many students who head off to college have not had to cope with general life skills prior to their freshman year. Help your student understand how to do laundry, how to balance a checkbook, how to budget and shop for food. Buy him a good alarm clock. Let him practice cooking and doing his own laundry before he leaves home.



6) Check in on their grade progress and behavioral changes to ensure everything is under control (without being controlling – you just want to make sure they’re safe). Don’t worry about manic-depressive phone calls or letters. Pay attention to signs that your youngster is in trouble. Eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, failing grades and other difficulties don’t happen overnight and aren’t a sign that a young man or woman is inadequate or bad. They are, however, signs of trouble and require adult intervention. Please remember that your student’s maturing process will involve ups and downs, and sometimes, unfortunately, experimentation with drinking and drugs.  While you can help by reminding students of the institution’s expectations as well as those of the law, respect for your student’s autonomy, good judgment and adherence to the values you have helped instill is likely to be rewarded in the long term. Many college students experiment with campus drinking, recreational drugs, and all too much partying. First-year students can quickly get in over their heads and wind up causing all sorts of danger — both to themselves and to others.



7) Recognize that doing nothing is often the best option. Inaction is an action, and is often interpreted by youngsters as a lack of interest or concern on the part of parents. If your child seems overwhelmed, you may need to contact the appropriate resources yourself. Don’t hesitate to step in until he or she can assume control.



8) Tell your child to say good bye to girlfriends at home. Google turkey drop for more info on this. It’s great for students to keep old friends, but it’s best if they can focus on those friendships during college vacations and summer break. Spending too much time on high school friendships can get in the way of establishing new friendships in college. Your student will likely feel social pressure to make friends, join groups (official or unofficial), find forms of entertainment, and make decisions about alcohol, drugs, sex, and other social activities. Help your student think carefully about what is important to him. Students are responsible for their choices and their actions. They are responsible for making decisions about studying, eating, socializing, finances, health, and managing their time.



9) Think about your parting words. The closing words between parents and children are crucial. Write them a letter and share your pride. I failed to write my kids the kind of letter they would want to save forever, making due [sic] with a series of texts that have long since been deleted. This is the moment to pour your heart out. Do not let your child see that you are sad to let them go. It is important that we arm our students with skills and a positive attitude so that they will be able to overcome challenges as they anticipate them and make some thoughtful decisions.



10) Take deep breaths and focus on the big picture. Your calm and confidence will inspire your child to take charge of his or her own life. Put your need to be needed second. This is their moment. Do not tell your students that “These are the best years of their lives”. [Roger that. Parenting is so much more relaxed, carefree and enjoyable! I only need to be omniscient, anticipate every need, distinguish between nuances of emotion in sporadic texts from 2000 miles away, and never inconvenience anyone. Piece of cake.]



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Cerys Gruffyydd

Cerys has gone through a genetics phase (undergrad years), a biological anthropology phase (grad school years) and a Pilates & yoga teaching phase (mum years). She lives with a scientist, a teenager and a rabbit. Her quasi-secret passion is historical costuming and she can’t look at people without imagining the era in which she would like to clothe them.

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