The college parent Facebook pages revisited: advice for freshman moms.
Oh yes, the college parent pages….sometimes it’s the best entertainment of the day. Sometimes, I simply cannot believe what I read from other parents. And yet, rarely, I do get some valuable insight and/or information. Today, a mother of an incoming freshman had a good question:
If you could give any advice/suggestion to a parent of an incoming freshman, what would it be?
Oh, I could think of several things, but I haven’t typed a response to her on the page yet, because I really don’t want to offend anyone on there. I will tell you the things that came to my mind, and then I will tell you the answers from other parents. Personally, I think it’s a good time for this advice, as the parents and students are just starting the high school to college transition process.
My advice/suggestion to the parent of an incoming freshman:
- Don’t put anything on the Facebook parent page that could, in any way, embarrass your child. Stop and think before you post. You don’t need to help Little Johnny find a girlfriend. In fact, Little Johnny likely doesn’t want the whole world to know that you still call him Little Johnny.
- Let your child figure it out! This one is important! College is a great transitional time in life. If the parents are supportive, it can be a smooth transition from childhood to young adulthood. However, if you always help Little Mary make her schedule or find a roommate, she will never learn these skills for herself. Do you want Little Mary to be dependent on you her whole life? I started college in 1985, but I remember it very well. I also remember that, other than writing the checks, my parents didn’t help me with it. They didn’t help me make my schedule. They didn’t help me find friends or roommates. In fact, I’ve said before that I’m not even sure they knew what I was majoring in at the time. And that was OK, because 1980s parents were way cooler and more laid back than 2020s parents. Be like 1980s parents…let the students figure it out!
- Be happy if, when you visit for a football weekend or other busy time, your child doesn’t have tons of time to spend with you. Be happy he/she has friends and activities that are important to her. Don’t get offended and do the “we traveled all this way” speech.
- Sometimes, when our students think they won’t have any fun at an activity or on a weekend, they have the best time ever. My daughter once called me and said everyone was leaving the university for the weekend, so she might like to come home. I said, “That’s fine, but it’s not that long before your planned trip home. Try to find something to do, and call me back.” She thought it would be the most bring weekend ever. However, a friend from another school called and wanted to visit her, so she stayed for the weekend, and it was later declared “one of the best weekends ever.”
- If your rising freshman student will be attending a university with big football, I, personally, would advise against taking the hardest classes they can take the fall semester (football season). I told my daughter, who attends an SEC big football school, “Take the easiest classes you can take that first semester. You will be adjusting to college life. You will be pledging a sorority. You will be going to football games and everything that goes with that. You want to adjust and enjoy it too, so take a light load.” Fortunately, she listened. And I know some parents might disagree with me on this, but I’m not giving their advice/suggestions. I’m giving mine.
- And for the parents: if you’re going to be an empty nester when this child leaves, enjoy your time! Wow! People have asked me if I was sad when our daughter (an only child) went off to college. The answer is a resounding NO. I was (and still am) absolutely thrilled that she gets to experience life at a big university, complete with all the fun and distractions. I’m also glad I’m able to get out and enjoy the things I like to do without having to chaperone anymore. If you need more information about how to enjoy being an empty nester, there are lots of great books on Amazon. Click here.
I’m sure you’re wondering what other parents’ advice/suggestions were, so I’m going to share a few of those too (I did not write these myself):
- Don’t worry when they cry and say they have no friends, or a friend hurts their feelings. Second semester everything changes and suddenly everything is in bloom!
- Stagger visits. My husband and I plus other family and friends visited separately so our DD had lots to look forward to throughout her time there.
- Get a tutor scheduled for any ‘hard’ classes BEFORE classes begin. Once you realize you need a tutor, it is too late!
- The first year away from home will be the most difficult. Be mentally prepared for the inevitable feelings of homesickness. This bit of advice helped my DD more than I can tell you.
- Prepare for them to be sick first semester. It’s just going to happen when you bring kids together from all over the country, living in close quarters and not eating or sleeping their best. Have a first aid box with over the counter remedies and have a list of phone numbers and addresses for local urgent cares in area with a plan on how to get there if needed. The student health center is great, but not always open for hours needed or can get backed up with appointments.
- Know they are smarter, more resilient, and able to think for themselves more than we ever realized. I know all kids are different, but let them make a few “mistakes” along the way…such as over sleeping and figuring out how what dining halls serve what! If they get sick, let them know you are there for them, but they need to find a way to get to the health clinic! We have spent the last 18 or so years thinking and doing so many things for them. I know it’s hard to let go. But, they have to learn to adult and sometimes that includes choosing to do things in ways we wouldn’t. You will be pleasantly surprised at how awesome your kids are at Adulting if given the full chance! And trust me…having 2 daughters (1 has graduated and 1 is in her 2nd year) I have never not helped when they called asking, but I always encouraged them to first talk about ways to fix their issues before just swooping in to do it for them. They usually have the solution and didn’t even know it! Enjoy these last few months with your senior.
- Send a meds box: Advil, flu meds, allergy stuff, thermometer, tummy meds . bandages etc.
There were more, but alas, there’s only so much room in this post. If you’re concerned that your rising freshman doesn’t have “adulting” knowledge, maybe help him/her with some books that contain useful information. Here are a few (and these could make great graduation gifts too):
- Adulting Made Easy: Things Someone Should Have Told You About Getting Your Grown-up Act Together by Amanda Morin. Purchase here.
- Adulting for Beginners – Life Skills for Adult Children, Teens, High School and College Students / The Grown-Up’s Survival Gift by Matilda Walsh. Purchase here.
- The Manual to Manhood: How to Cook the Perfect Steak, Change a Tire, Impress a Girl & 97 Other Skills You Need to Survive by Jonathan Catherman. Purchase here.
- Emily Post’s Etiquette, 19th Edition: Manners for Today. by Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning. This is a hardcover book that I think every young lady should have. Having it in hardcover form allows them to keep it forever and reference it often. My mother gave me one when I went to college, and I still use it for reference. Also makes a great graduation gift. Purchase here.
Very sound advice!