By Purvi S. Mody
We are in the midst of graduation season and with it comes change. Whether your child is heading off to college across the country or down the street, graduation marks the end of his childhood and the beginning of his independence. And graduations should be as much a testament to your child’s completion of high school as it should be for your constant devotion and tireless effort raising your child. You now have the next few months of summer to really prepare your child for his next step in life.
You will undoubtedly make countless trips to the store to buy your child the necessary accoutrements for college. But the most important thing you can do for him is to give him the skills to be successful even when he is not under your watchful eye. Simple things such as buying groceries, washing clothes, and going to the ATM can cause even the highest GPA toting student some anxiety. And beyond the seemingly trivial everyday tasks that he will now have to complete on his own, he will also have to balance studying and social life successfully.
Here are just a few things you should make sure your child understands before he heads off to school:
1. Money Matters
For many teenagers, how to handle money typically meant begging their parents for a few dollars every week. But now your child will get inundated by enticing credit card offers that mean financial freedom. Sit down with your child and set up a financial plan and budget. Whether you are footing the bill for college or he is getting loans and scholarships, your child will be dealing with large amounts of money. While you can still control the reigns by setting limits on credit cards in your names and bank accounts, educating him about money will be invaluable.
2. Time Management
For the first time ever, your child will have complete control over his schedule. You will not be there to wake him up when his snooze button fails. You will also not be there to urge him to study when all his friends are going out. While time management is something that he should have been developing over the last four years, the desire to let loose can overcome even the most well-intentioned student. Sit down and seriously talk to him about staying focused and about the importance of balancing work and fun.
3. Grades Matter
There is a common tendency for students to let their academic guard down during their first semester in college. But urge your child to remain focused on the end goal. Grades are important for graduate school. And some employers will also look at transcripts before making summer and full-time offers. While some majors and colleges can be more rigorous than others, that is hardly reason enough for a major dip in GPA. Encourage your student to talk to an advisor, build a strong relationship with a trusted advisor, or find alumni mentors to give the right guidance along the way.
4. Encourage Common Sense
Many students have a sense of invincibility when they start college. And while administrators place great emphasis on campus safety, students too must keep their guards up even on the most prestigious campus or the most suburban setting. Talk to your child about safety and practicing common sense. This may require you to go beyond your comfort zone, but in the end your child’s safety is more important than anything.
5. Call Home Often
While he will not call you as often as you would like, encourage regular communication. This will help him stay grounded while he is away, and it will also make you feel much more comfortable with the separation. And try to keep the conversations not just focused on grades.
Graduations are called commencements because they mark a new beginning for your family. Enjoy this moment, but then make the next couple of months memorable and productive. Your job being a parent will actually never end, which is probably happy news for most moms and dads out there!
Purvi S. Mody is co-owner of Insight Education, an educational consulting firm that helps students throughout the country and internationally to achieve their educational goals. Get in touch with her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @InsightEduc.