As any parent will tell you, the moment your child is born, they become your everything and you form this immense amount of love and protection over them. You created a life, and now you have to look after them which is an awful lot of responsibility. And yet, it’s such a gift and privilege that it’s worth every second. It’s a rewarding experience that teaches you how to grow up and see life differently now that you’re a parent.
You will go through so many stages through their childhood, both good and bad. They’ll push you to the limit, ruin your favorite carpet, break into the chocolate drawer – but then at the same time, they’ll look up at you with their little innocent eyes and you can’t not fall in love with them all over again. But there comes a stage where they really are getting older far too quickly, and it’s time to start talking about schooling and college. It may seem like a good while away for now – but you really wouldn’t believe just how fast life passes you by. That’s why you need to make the most of it and create as many memories with your children as you can so that you know you spent your days, hours, and minutes the best way possible.
So let’s talk college. This is the point in any parents life that’s both heartbreaking, exciting, emotional, and fearful, because it means that their baby’s leaving the nest and spreading their wings working to a career that will hopefully carry them through living a wonderful life.
The college expenses
First of all, let’s all be honest for a minute – it is expensive. This is why so many young students end up in serious debt because they’re still trying to pay off their loans years later as an adult. So one of the best things that you can do is to create a college fund early on, and every month (or whenever you get that extra cash in), put it into the account. Continue to do this and it will gradually start accumulating over time. Slowly but surely, but if you really invest in this then by the time your child is getting close to the college age, they should have a very nice number looking back at them to start them off. All you need to do is decide on a certain per cent of your income that will be put into their fund. So it may be twenty per cent, or you may have the freedom to put even more in every month. Then just set that up with an automatic transfer and you won’t even need to remember to do anything.
Talk about what their overall goal is
It’s always good to have a goal to reach so that you have something to work towards. It’s no good having your child go off to college without a good idea of what they want to do. Having said that, things do change, and you don’t want to put too much pressure onto your child to choose a career path that they may not actually want to do in the first place. It’s their choice. It’s their career. But it is wise to have some kind of idea so that your child knows what kind of direction they want to go in. Have a sit down with them and talk about what it is they want to do. They may not have any plan whatsoever, which is tricky, but still manageable. It’s all about communication and paying attention to what your child seems to enjoy and is actually good at. One thing that you should encourage though, is to never choose a course or class merely because their friends are taking the same class – it never ends well.
Teach your child how to stay safe and protected
It’s never a nice thought to think about as a parent of a child who’s going to college and they’re no longer under the safe protection of your wing. But as painful as it may be, and as much as you’ll want to take care of them, it’s entirely under the same circumstances now. It’s all about knowing how to create a safe college experience so they get by with little to no problems, as a pose to other children that aren’t as knowledgeable. It’s the little things like making sure your child stows away their laptop to avoid the possibility of theft. Change their passwords and don’t make them obvious like “password” because they’ll easily be broken into. And always have them buy and download all the necessary antivirus software to ensure that everything on their laptop is protected, especially if someone is trying to hack into it.
Tell them it’s okay to ask for help
Many kids struggle in college, some more than others, and it’s an extremely stressful time for a lot of them as the pressure builds up and they feel as though they just can’t take it anymore. While we all deal with stress through our lives, this period of theirs can be really overwhelming as they have so many choices and paths to cross and things to remember and targets to achieve. So it’s so important that they know they’re able to talk to someone if they feel as though they’re really starting to struggle. There should always be college counselors to speak to if they’re finding it hard, and they should be equipped to giving you the right kind of advice and support that you need to manage your days better. And make sure that you let them know you’re always there for them regardless of what it is they need. There’s no better feeling than knowing your parents have your back.
Encourage them to have a study buddy
A huge per cent of college is all the studying that goes into it. It’s something that everyone dreads and groans at the thought of, and yet it’s a necessary measure if you’re going to learn anything. Sure, you have classes and learn while you’re there, but you need to take all that knowledge back with you to your dorm and go over it again and again so that it’s installed into your brain. – That’s how you pass an exam. But again, the pressure and stress of this can really get to a whole number or students. One way to take off the edge is to encourage your child to have a study buddy. Someone that they can hang out with wherever they find relaxing, be it in their dorm room, the park, or even in a cafe. Having someone that’s in the same boat as your child will stop them from feeling so alone, because not only will they be able to study together and help each other out with questions and answers, but they create a bond, and even a strong friendship that may just last a lifetime.
Give them their freedom
One of the hardest things that you will find yourself doing, is actually letting your child go. You’ve been with them for all those years watching them grow into their personalities, getting bigger and bigger, more mature, as well as watching them make the typical mistakes every child makes. – That’s all part of growing up. But it can be a real shock to the system when you realize that they’re not going to be there forever, and it’s now their time to fly and soar through the air working towards the career of their dreams. They say that if you love something you have to let it go, and this is a necessary phrase to apply here. They will always be your babies, but they need to make their own way through and make their own mistakes – because that’s how they’ll learn. And of course, you will be there to pick up the pieces and encourage them not to give up.
Now that you have a good idea of what the transition period of college is, know that it will be a scary time, not only for your child but for you too. But it’s necessary if your child is going to have a job that pays well and more importantly, something they actually enjoy. It won’t be easy, and you’ll most likely have plenty of calls late at night with your child on the other end of the phone crying and asking to come home because it’s too hard or their not understanding the lessons, or they can’t find somewhere to sit in the cafeteria. But once you reassure them and let them know that everything is going to be okay – it will get easier, and you need to let them know that.
College is an exciting time where new experiences and memories and friendships are made, so although it’s important to take it seriously – tell your kids to make the most out of it too. You only do it once.