How to help your college student succeed?
Sending your child off to college can be an exciting time. It can also be emotional and overwhelming, for both students and parents. Just because your kid has gone off to college doesn’t mean they don’t need you. You can still be there to provide them with emotional support and a safe place to land. The key is to find a balance between providing assistance and encouraging independence. Here are some ways you can help your college student succeed.
One of the best ways you can provide your student with support is simply to continue being there for them. This is particularly important when they first arrive at school. It can feel isolating and lonely to find yourself in a new place. Even once established on campus, sometimes your student will just need a dependable and supportive ear. Try to answer the phone when they call or to return their text. You can always let them know you’ll get in touch later if you’re currently busy, but a quick response lets them know you care and provides reassurance.
Be a good listener
When your student is away from you, they may find themselves feeling overwhelmed or even fearful. While the idea of being on your own can be exciting, the reality is often a challenge for adolescents. Knowing you will listen with empathy and support goes a long way toward calming your student. Do your best not to minimize their feelings. Problems can seem much bigger when you’re on your own.
Be supportive, not overbearing
You may be tempted to jump into action to do whatever is within your power to make your child feel better. That can be a mistake. Remember, this is your college student. They are an adult, and it’s crucial that they start to gain some independence. So sit back and listen. Don’t hesitate to offer your support and advice, but avoid being what’s known as a “helicopter parent.” There’s no need to hover over your child to make sure they’re okay. You can provide suggestions, but it’s ultimately your kid’s responsibility to make their own decisions and take action toward solving their problems. You can encourage them, however. Let them know that you believe in them. Tell them to go for that thing that scares them.
Sometimes college students, particularly younger ones, may simply not know what to do in a certain situation. Navigating higher education can be confusing. There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to things like choosing classes, dealing with roommate issues, and getting involved in activities. One way to be especially helpful in these situations is to remind your student that there are experts on campus who can assist them. Recommend they see their resident assistant, or RA, if they’re having roommate troubles. Send them to meet with their academic adviser for questions about enrolling in classes. Tutors are available when students are having academic difficulties. Even older students can use some helpful resources. If your student is hoping to get into med school, consider recommending online MCAT tutoring so they can better prepare for the test. Be sure to suggest a visit to the career center when it’s time to look for their first professional position. There are lots of sources of assistance available to help them. It’s not your responsibility to do it all.
Most students will appreciate your generosity. No, you don’t need to send them a never-ending supply of cash or lavish them with big gifts. However, offering thoughtful gestures such as a gift basket at midterms or a monthly care package can go a long way to let them know you care. Get creative and have fun with it. Perhaps considering items they can share with their friends. They’ll appreciate your effort more than you know. They will feel supported and loved when they receive these things. Plus, it’s also a good way to stay connected.
These are just some ways to help your college student succeed. What’s most important is to find opportunities to let them know you’ll always be there for them. With such encouragement, you can feel confident your child will come to you in the future as they make their way through college.