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Five Things NOT To Do When You Drop Your Child at College

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

 

It's great to help get those bins and boxes into the dorm, but here are 5 things you need NOT to do. Photo: Wright State University.

Over the next few weeks, families will be packing up the car and dropping students off at college. For many parents, it’s a stressful time. Students crave independence, and it is a time for them to break away and prepare for adulthood. Today, most parents stay more involved than they were a generation ago, and that can be detrimental to the process of adjusting to college life. So, here are a few tips for parents about to cut the umbilical cord:

1. Don't Hover During Orientation

The first few days of college are an opportunity for your child to make new friends and get acclimated. Many orientations today include a parent component. However, this should not be a license to hang out in your child’s dorm room or eat every meal with them. It’s a time for you as a parent to learn about the college, and a transition time for students to get settled in their new home.

2. Avoid Texting Repeatedly

Studies have shown that the average college student gets about 12 communications from parents each week. This is a sharp contrast to the once a week phone call and occasional mail most parents got from home when they were in college. Technology makes it easy to be in touch with loved ones, but it also makes it hard for students to learn independence and transition emotionally to their new life. So, resist the temptation to be in touch daily.

3. Never Call a Professor

I hear stories all the time from friends and family who are professors about the parent who calls concerning a bad grade. One of my siblings even tells the story of a parent who called after a failing grade, and when she told the parent that the student would have to speak with her directly about it, the parent responded “I don’t want her involved”. Involved? It’s her grade. Your child is now 18, it is their responsibility to monitor their grades and work out any issues with the professor. Unless there is a medical crisis (i.e. your child is in the hospital and can’t take finals), you should not be calling a professor.

4. Don't Let Them Come Home Too Often

When kids attend college fairly close to home, there can be a temptation for the student to come back on the weekends. Kids who do this usually miss out on truly immersing themselves in campus life. So, if you find your college student at home on a regular basis, encourage them to join some clubs and find a group of friends to enjoy extra-curricular activities with. You are only in college once, and missing out on the social aspects of college usually doesn’t make for a happy four years.

5. Resist Pushing a Major

It’s easy in a stagnant economy to pressure students into what you perceive to be a “practical” major. Kids feel guilty about all the money you are spending and want to please you. So, often they will go along with a major that YOU emphasize vs. finding their passion. This usually results in the student getting poor grades or being dissatisfied with their career later. Encourage them to explore a variety of subjects and take advantage of on campus career testing and off campus internships. Gentle guidance to investigate different careers is the key to seeing your child happy later in life.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

 

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