College admissions can be an exciting or different experience for many, both students and parents. For all it’s a stressful time in making some decisions that you may have never had to make before.
Mom and dad, for you its something that you struggle with, just as much (if not more), as your son or daughter. You’ve spent their whole lives protecting them. Nurturing them. Calling their teachers or attendance offices. healing their wounds and illnesses both physically and emotionally at times. You want everything for them but there is a time when you just have to let the helicopter take off without landing, and let your son or daughter experience what they experience to learn from their fortunes…and misfortunes.
You have to be there for them. But let them go slowly one at a time. Hence the helicopter reference. You’ve hovered over them, protected them and now you have to slowly, but surely let them go. But not forever.
Let them make some of the decisions…
Even if you don’t like them, or feel they are not good ones. Sure when you let your child choose any college they;d like to go to, there are some limits. But don’t limit them to cheap in-state schools, or community/junior colleges. Explain to them some limits that you might have for them, but give them (almost) card blanche with regard to their initial college choices. You will have plenty of time to pear it down to a reaonable list. There will be a change of mind somewhere down the road.
Letting your son or daughter make this kind of decision first empowers them to START making some serious decisions that will affect their very own future directly. There will be other much more difficult decisions that they’ll start making, but this is a good start. This will also help you down from the helicopter nice and slowly.
You’d think your child leaving the house would be nice…
But that sometimes isn’t the case. Many parents, both or individually suffer from some or extreme separation anxiety when their son or daughter goes off to college. There is a lot of stress just getting them ready and making sure you send them off safe, sound, full of food, some money and confidence that they will be okay without you. And that you will be okay without them. Letting them make some some decisions, and letting them learn from the goods and the bads, helps you to mentally prepare yourself.
Eventually they’ll be back. They need money, clothes washed, see old friends, whatever else that brings them back for the weekend or break. It’ll be nice. Look forward to that in between.
It’s just sooo expensive…
Not true! Well some schools are. Sure the high end, elite colleges and universities, even aside from the ivy league schools. But, there are a lot of options that you can utilize at even some of the more costly schools. Financial aid is growing a little more because of the importance of people attaining a degree, as well as in-school grants and other scholarships or financial assistance that can lead you and your son/daughter to financial freedom.
Let your child know that you don’t intend on going bankrupt to send them to college. Set the ground rules. Make sure they understand your financial situation and be completely honest with them on what limitations you might have. I ask students in my presentations if they actually know what their parents can afford for college for them, and all of them have no clue. Be honest with them, because iit will save a lot of stress for later, when looking at the list of colleges they choose.
Taking the tours…
This can be a little stressful because you may just want to check out the campus first, and then make a decision whether you want to proceed further. If your child has a long list of schools (my recommendation is to have 3-4 definite choices), then they should separate them into two categories: Definitely interested, and Possibly Interested. If they have the recommended 3-4 choices, then visit all of them.
If you don’t want to meet with admissions quite yet, that’s fine. Take the tour of all schools with an objective opinion) especially if they like it and you don’t). I recommend you meet with an admissions rep for the tour, or afterward to ask questions that you and your son/daughter has. Campus tours are so fun. Let them stay overnight in a dorm if they’d like. Combine the campus tours with summer vacation. Or go on vacation around the tour. Choosing where your son/daughter spends the next four years can be a stressful time, and a vacation might be what you all need.
Keep track of what they’re doing, but don’t hover over them…
Helicopters can be rough to deal with, but to your son or daughter, that might be their own feelings too. Maybe not. If you;re reading this post, then you’re in search oof assistance and help. I’m here for that.
But make sure deadlines are met, essays are written, they practiced and took their SAT’s, and that they maintain their grades. But, let them proceed with all of this. They have to experience the mistakes before leaving home. Surprisingly the separation of them going off to college would lessen quite a bit. Son or daughter can forget, and will forget. Make sure they know that things are due ad forms filled out, but let them do it. DON’T DO IT FOR THEM. Financial aid has to get done, and many colleges will assist you with getting the proper paperwork and information in on time.
It’s finally happening isn’t it? Your child is now becoming, or an adult and they are about to leave, and live their own life on their own. Will they make it? What happens if they come back? What do they do if they don’t make it? It’s okay. All of this might happen, but chances are if you empower them to make their own choices, they will be much more prepared, motivated, and own up to their own destiny.
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Your Success is My Success,
Keith Lipke is a careers and college recruiter, coach, mentor and blogger at The Hope Chest. His passion is to educate, inspire, and give hope to young people along their journey who need it upon their search for the right career.