Helping Your Child Succeed in College
College 101 for Parents
The thought of college can create a lot of anxiety for Mom, Dad, and child. But it doesn’t have to be scary. Thousands of families are going through the same things. Here are a few of the most common questions that parents want to ask, but don’t:
In many ways, college is the same. It’s a time for students to learn, grow, and meet new people. But over the past few decades, college campuses have seen some big changes. For starters, they are much more difficult to get into, and the cost of tuition has increased considerably. Colleges have become diverse melting pots, and many now offer co-ed dorms. Of course the entire dorm experience has evolved to include great amenities, such as gyms, private bathrooms, and better food choices. One other noteworthy change is that students are using their mobile devices to download their reading rather than buying the big, heavy books.
The college experience may look different to each person. But for the most part, your child can expect to meet a lot of new people, eventually get homesick (and then be fine), be challenged to think and learn, and find out what they want to do for a career (even if it takes them a few semesters). Students will learn to organize and plan their studies so they have time to enjoy social activities. Your child will form lifelong friendships and make connections that help them throughout their life.
Colleges offer a variety of resources to help students with their academics, including libraries, labs, and study halls. Your student will also be able to meet with academic advisors, study groups, tutors, and their professors or teaching assistants. If your child looks for help, it is there. Colleges want their students to be successful.
The answer is that it depends. If your child has to work to help pay for their tuition, books, or rent, that is understandable. But don’t feel like they need to work just because they’re out of high school. College can be a big enough job, and working while in school can extend the college years and end up costing the student even more money. Weigh your options and, if eligible, consider college work-study programs.
Again, it depends. Many college campuses are designed for walking or bicycling. Having a car can be costly due to permits and fees for parking. Living on campus usually eliminates the need for a car. But if your child is living or working off campus, a car may be helpful. Keep in mind, many colleges also offer bus transportation to off-site apartments and major attractions. This may be all your child needs and will save them money.
Most colleges have on-campus housing or dormitories. Apartments and rental properties are all around many college campuses. Living on campus as a freshmen and/or sophomore is a great way to meet new people and get acclimated to college life. But if you live near a college and your child can live at home, it’s a good way to save money. Pick the option that works best for you and your child.
If your child is living in a dorm, many colleges allow them to request their roommate if they know someone going to the same school. Or they can go “potluck” and see what happens. Colleges usually try to match students with similar interests. Many students become friends for life with their college roommates. And if they don’t get along, there are options for changing roommates along the way.
Typically, the answer is yes. When students go to college, they’ll need access to a computer. If you can’t afford one, that is ok. All colleges have access to computers in labs or libraries. Some colleges might even provide a computer.
Most colleges have laundromats on campus, some in the dormitories. If your child is in an apartment, chances are it will have a laundry room too.
The quickest way is to ask your child, but some colleges will email or mail grade reports to the parent if requested.