Parents of future college students.
Let me start by telling you I am not a professional anything. I’m not a psychologist or an educational counselor or anything like that. However, I am a mom of a college freshman. If you have a high school senior who is planning to attend college next year, I have some tips for you. Take them or leave them. Everybody does their own thing, but these are based on experience and observations.
-Join the Facebook parents’ page of your son or daughter’s future college or university as soon as you know where he/she is going.
-If you choose to post on said page, be careful what you post. Always remember your name can be linked back to your child, and you don’t want them to start college having to live down “where can little Johnny meet a girlfriend?”
-In fact, also on said page, resist the urge to post snarky replies to stupid questions. The stupid questions will be plentiful, but just resist the urge. Call your friends and laugh about it instead.
-Let your future college student handle the logistics of registering for everything. You don’t need to do it for him/her. Let them register for orientation, if necessary. It’s OK to remind them. It’s even OK to scan the parent page for info or recommendations, but let your student do it! Same with picking classes…make recommendations, but don’t make their schedule for them. Let them learn how to do it! When I went to college, my parents wrote the checks. That’s it. I tried to do my daughter the same favor…the favor of letting her figure it out. And yes, I keep sending the money.
-Little Jane doesn’t need your help finding a roommate. She can do it.
-Since I mentioned roommates, I have to say this: if your child is going away to college and has the option of living off campus freshman year, resist that urge. Freshmen need to live on campus. It’s how they make friends…almost immediately. I don’t care if Little Janie has never had to share a room or bathroom before. My daughter is an only child and has always had her own room and bathroom, but she lives in a traditional dorm and shares a bathroom with her roommate. She absolutely loves dorm life, because she has made lots of friends. I saw a post on the parent page just yesterday that said, “My freshman daughter who lives off campus has had trouble making friends.” They need to feel like a part of the college community. They also need to learn to share space with other people. Off-campus living is a big mistake freshman year.
-Plan ahead to decorate dorm rooms for girls, but don’t overdo it. It’s claustrophobic when you put too much stuff in a dorm room. And remember: whatever you take in there, you will eventually have to bring out.
-Once they get there, they might have bouts of homesickness or sadness. It’s normal. Don’t go pick them up and bring them home. Be positive. I remember my daughter calling me soon after class started. She was sad. I was on vacation, but I sat down and said very positive things to her…in a calm, soothing tone. Three hours and a new friend later, she called to tell me how happy she was!
-Know you will say the wrong things to them sometimes. If it’s your first child going to college, you are on a learning curve too.
This is all I have for right now. I’m empty-nesting on a beach today, but I’m sure I will think of more in the months leading up to move-in day. I get lots of fodder from the parents’ page on Facebook!