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Navigating the College Journey: A Guide for Parents

College Journey

While college is an adventure for the student, their first experience of independence and with a whole world to discover, for parents it can be a stressful time. You may have trouble with the fact that they’re no longer under your roof where you can protect and guide them. But things change, children grow up and adults grow older. Remember how it felt when you were in that position. Here are five things to consider, to make it easier.

Let Go

A college student is a young adult and that means they must make their own way in the world. They need to discover their place, maximize their potential, and do things on their own. Of course, the emotional needs of a child change as they learn and grow but you will always be their parents and they will rely on you more than they may care to admit. But now maybe only for the emotional support of just being there, rather than the practical, protective role you have played so far.

Be a Resource

Yes, you’re a fountain of wisdom and you’ve been down these roads before, the roads they are just setting off on, but it’s going to be slightly different for them. Maybe very different. Use some of your wisdom to hold back on the advice unless they ask for it or appear to need some. You’re a resource, like a library or the internet.

Help Financially Where it’s Needed

This may come right at the start, by being a co-signer on their student loan. That makes you a help to them, the solid citizen, the good bet that gives the bank the confidence to issue the loan in the first place. Another way of helping is by taking out a HELOC, or home equity line of credit, and it’s like a loan within a mortgage, putting equity from your home to good use. A HELOC comes with tolerable repayments because your home is up for collateral, so the lender has something tangible to rely on.

Take an Interest

They may be studying something that’s all Greek to you, all this tech stuff that they take for granted but you don’t really understand, or languages you don’t really see the point of, or scientific disciplines that don’t appear relevant to real life. But ask them about it. Get them to explain a few things in layman’s terms. That way you can get a feel for how much they really understand, and whether they are sailing through it or struggling. Ask about the college lecturers and tutors, which ones they like and don’t like, and why. Get an idea about their social life, without appearing to pry.

Trust Them

This person comes from a good background. You know the parents, you know the family, because they are you. You know the ways to raise good kids because you did it. You have also watched this young person grow up, and sometimes traits they had as a toddler or a nine-year-old get submerged during the rebellious teens, only to re-emerge later. These can be good things or worrying things, and if they are bad, at least you can give a bit of guidance, given the right opportunity. If they are good, that’s a weight off your mind.