Leaving for college doesn’t just affect students, it affects parents as well! Below, we’ve got some exclusive content just for parents from Harlan Cohen’s book, The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only.
Mapping out a path or a plan for your soon-to-be college student can really set them up for success. Spend some time with your son or daughter and ask the following questions. These questions will help focus on creating BIG, but also realistic expectations, will create a timeline to reach these expectations, and will create options. Options are important. A student with options (and lots of places to find connections on campus) will make smarter, better, and safer decisions.
1. What would be your perfect first year in college (topics to discuss include friends, academics, visits home, social life, activities, and experiences outside the classroom)? This question is about creating expectations. Without expectations one lacks direction. You don’t want your child to just wait for it all to happen.
2. How do you plan on making this happen? Without a plan, it’s hard to turn expectations into reality. If your child hasn’t thought about this yet, be patient. Make it clear that you want him or her to get involved outside the classroom. Try to get your son or daughter thinking about the activities, organizations, and opportunities available on campus.
3. Who are some people on campus who can help you make this happen? Suggest your child identify five people he or she can turn to for advice and help along the way (students on campus, friends, family, professionals, etc.). Your child needs support and help when you’re not there.
4. How much time are you going to give yourself to make it all happen? It doesn’t usually happen in one week, one month, or even one year. It can take time. You need to be patient and your child needs to be patient. Too many times students are in a big hurry to reach big goals and get disappointed if it all doesn’t happen right away. Plant the seed that it can take a couple of years—not a couple of weeks or months—to make it happen.
5. What can I (we) do to help support you to make it happen?
Asking what you can do sends a message that you are willing to help, but more importantly, that you don’t assume your child needs your help. There’s nothing wrong with coaching him or her, but your student needs to be the one to make it all happen.
A Happy Way to End the Conversation: If you don’t already do this, it’s nice to be reminded that no matter what happens during this experience, you will always be there for your child. Telling, showing, and sending lots of care packages (students love care packages!) will help remind your child that you love him or her and will be there no matter what.