College is an exciting time in any kid’s future and with excitement and anticipation, comes anxiety and apprehension from parents. Parents think, will their child make friends? Will their roommate be nice? Are the college classes difficult? How hard is the transition from high school to college? As I approach my final year in college, there are a few things during the three years I’ve completed thus far that I wish I could do differently. My mom is there every step of the way, however, here are 10 things I wish my mom taught me BEFORE I left for college.
It’s Okay If You’re Not Friends with Your Roommate
There are opportunities where students are assigned a room with a friend and other times where if they do not have a friend, they are given a roommate. In either case, disagreements and fights can come to a boiling point if expectations are not met. Parents would need to tell their children that it’s okay if their roommate is not their friend immediately or at all. Sometimes it just is not meant to be.
Stay True To Yourself
Parents should understand that in college, peer pressure is at an all-time high. Kids are not considered young adults and can purchase alcohol at the age of twenty-one (in the United States, in other countries the ages are lower.) Because kids are, traditionally, still in college at the age of 21, they can drink, smoke, and are susceptible to other peer pressures that they weren’t in high school. It is extremely important to stay true to yourselves in those moments. If your child does not want to drink or smoke, and they are in places where it is offered the most (like parties), explain how they can stand up for themselves in those moments. No means no even when it comes to pressures like smoking and drinking.
It Is Okay to Venture Out on Your Own
When your kid leaves for college, it might be the first time they are out of the house for a long period of time. A parent might feel the “empty nest syndrome” for the first year, especially if the child leaving for college is their last or only one. However, it is okay for the child or children to explore for a while. They will want to venture out without their parents following their footsteps. It is a part of finding out what type of person they will want to be when they get older.
On the Flip Side, It’s Okay to Come Home
Students will never see college as “easy.” The deadlines that each class has, combined with possible drama from friend groups can equal a disaster. When disaster does strike, parents should let their children know that despite their independence, it’s okay to shed that for a moment and vent about their problems when they need to. It’s also okay to spend weekends at home beside the required days. Home is truly where the heart is.
Hold’s on Your Accounts Suck, But It Just Means You Are Human
In colleges, students are able to register for classes during a certain time. If for some reason, your child is unable to register for his or her class time, it might be because of a hold on their account. A hold can be anything to a business hold (which just means there are portions of the tuition not paid or a problem with financial aid,) or an academic hold (which could mean your child did not complete the necessary requirements to take a certain class) or they never went to see their academic advisor (which would take the hold off.) However, if you have a hold on your account it only means your human. There are other people out there who don’t have their financial situations figured out yet and you are certainly not the first one.
Everyone is in Different Stages of Their Life When Starting College
The average college student will start school at the age of seventeen and finish college by the age of twenty-three. However, it is important to remember that is the average. In the United States, college students can range in different phases in their life and that is okay. You don’t need to start college at the age of seventeen or eighteen and you can take a gap year if you need it. It is also okay to not finish college in four years. It’s important to remind your child it’s okay to do what’s right for them.
It’s Okay To Build Credit
By getting a credit card, it gives your child an opportunity to build credit. Credit is a must to finance a car, receive a mortgage on a home, and receive many other opportunities around you. As the parent, you can start your child off with a student credit card so they can use it to get small items like groceries. By using the card, it will grow their credit so by the time they graduate from college, they have a significant amount of credit.
Plans Change and That’s Okay
As parents, it is important to note that nothing will stay on track. Plans will change in college and that’s okay. Whether that be adding or deducting another major from the track, transferring schools because the current school doesn’t feel right, or just taking a gap year, if it’s the right plan for you and feels right to you and your child, you should do it.
Your Mental and Physical Health is More Important Than a Letter Grade
Your mental and physical health are what hold you together. There will be times in college where your child might breakdown. It could be because of the workload, it could be because of friendships that start to fracture, it could even be because they miss home, but their mental health through it all will take the heat during the struggles. By focusing on your mental health and even your physical health, it makes you stronger. Also, grades do not define the person your child is and never will and as time goes on, they will start to realize that.
Your child has the next four years to enjoy themselves before entering the real world. College can bring many experiences and happy memories. Hopefully, your child can sit back enjoy because graduation will be here before you know it.
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A recent graduate of William Peace University with a B.A. in Writing and Psychology.