With most college-aged students having already returned to their academia, it is just about time to evaluate the needs of these individuals. Being away from home, studying for hours on end, and being self-reliant and responsible are several new factors college students of all ages face in the fall. Even though the first official day of autumn isn’t until September 22nd, there shouldn’t be any hesitation when it comes to showing your college student love and support while they are learning to grow and develop into independent, well-rounded human beings. I am a college student myself, and here are several support systems I have found to be valuable for myself as well as my peers through our experiences so far in secondary education:
Allow for Freedom
College is a new, exciting experience for many who attend. It doesn’t matter if you begin at a community college or a 4-year, every college experience brings on certain expectations and new freedoms individuals have never experienced, or had the opportunity to experience beforehand. As a parent/guardian of a college student, hovering over your student may in fact increase the pressure they place on themselves. College is the first opportunity for many individuals to learn how to be self-reliant, and make decisions for themselves in many cases. It is also a great opportunity for students to learn basic life skills such as time management, organization, cleaning skills, and budgeting. If you, as the parent/guardian, continue to remain the responsible one, and take care of all of the important business for your student, they will never get the opportunity to learn it for themselves. Although it is inevitable that students in the 17 to 24-year-old range will make mistakes, that is part of the learning process.
Send Care Packages as well as Positive Messages of Encouragement
I would say that amongst all of the things college students forget to do, such as studying and homework, that eating would be the most forgotten thing. School work can get pretty labor intensive and time consuming, restricting the available time and means to eat a proper meal or even a light snack. Having basic snacks and knowing that someone is thinking of your health and wellbeing brings a smile to every college student’s face, guaranteed. Little notes enclosed in those care packages are great as well. Text messages and phone calls are also great ways to send little reminders that you care and are thinking about your student while they are away.
Show Unconditional Positive Regard
One thing you can avoid doing this semester is making your college student feel as though they have to earn your love and respect. Sometimes people can come across as “I love you for your grades” or something along the lines of “how much I care about you depends on how successful you are”. As a parent/guardian, make the conscious effort to show that you love, care, and support your college-goer no matter what they do. Obviously we all want success for our fellow humans in our lives, but everyone also obviously has highs and lows on their path to success. It is also important to remember everyone’s definition varies, so it is unfair to place expectations on another individual when the thought process behind “success” differs. At the end of the day, just remember a little kindness and love goes a long way.