College students are under a great deal of stress now more than ever.
Look at the numbers.
According to a report from the American Psychological Association:
- In the last couple of years, 30% more students are seeking counseling in spite of student enrollment going up by only 5%
- As much as 61% of students seek counseling because they feel anxiety, 49% for depression, 45% for stress
- For every school counselor, there are 1,737 students; this ratio is worse at larger institutions—2,624 students to a counseling staff
It’s a lot worse if they have to work while studying, as most full-time college students do.
However, as a parent, you can help make your child’s transition to college life a lot smoother. Self-reliance becomes less challenging to your child with a fair amount of preparation.
Keep reading to find out how you can help.
How Can Parents Help?
Your child’s time at home influences the quality of their social and emotional connection.
They develop their values, morals, work ethic, aspirations, and emotional reaction to things and people within that time.
Most of what you can do to prepare your child for college is to teach and show good examples. But, doing it early and often enough has a lasting impact.
Here are some ways you can prepare your child for college life:
Help With the Application Process
One of the top reasons students find studying hard is choosing the wrong major or college. Then, the course is too boring or too challenging for them, and they’ll quickly lose interest.
So it’s easier for your child to focus and avoid distractions if they enroll into their preferred course and college. Most times, external pressure will interfere with the application process.
But, you can prevent a difficult adjustment to college life by helping them discover their preferences. Gently nudge them into maintaining interest in them when applying to colleges.
Remember you are the parent and avoid putting pressure on your child while they apply; only assist, don’t insist.
Also, preparing your child early enough to meet academic requirements makes college life more comfortable. Hire tutors, sign them up for special classes, and sponsor extra-curricular activities that improve their admission opportunities.
Plan the Financials Together
According to a National Student Financial Wellness study, financial difficulties are responsible for stress in over 70% of students. Up to 32% of college students have been unable to study at one time due to financial stress.
Besides setting up the financial resources for college, you need to teach your child about money management and budgeting.
Spending too much or impulsively and borrowing more than needed are top financial stress sources. Help your child keep track of their money by teaching them to plan and budget their expenses ahead of time.
Let them help with household financial planning and accounting. Sometimes, trust your child with some money t0 give them a learning opportunity.
Meanwhile, 64% of college students finance their studies using loans. So discuss jobs or loans, if they have to take up one while studying.
Teach Them Time Management
Juggling work, study, social life, and, sometimes, family expectations are the major sources of stress on campus. With the growing level of distractions, 60% anxiety, and 40% depression rates in college students aren’t so unbelievable.
Proper time management will help your child balance their schedules while away in college.
Learning time management at home happens in so many ways. Enforcing bedtimes and curfews, getting assignments done on time, and keeping to school times are a few good ways to start.
You can help your child organize their daily tasks and routines on a digital calendar. That way, they can access them from multiple devices and remain even more focused.
Some experience working in high school would make college work-study arrangements easier to manage.
Personal Health and Safety Responsibility
Now your child is away, they retain primary responsibility for their health and safety.
When helping their children choose colleges, 86% of parents worry about campus safety more than academic quality. However, college students can find a way to get into trouble, even on the safest campuses.
Learning the right values at home will ensure they avoid compromising situations.
Teach your child about sex and relationships, handling medication, and avoiding substance abuse.
College health centers actively help students fight against substance use. But, getting your child to use these resources would require some preparation.
Give Them More Freedom at Home
An iMom.com research investigated the impact of freedom on the behavior and development of children.
Here are the main facts:
- The desire for the freedom to do what they want accounts for teenagers acting out, more times than peer pressure.
- 31% of respondents would never use their freedom in ways their parents would disapprove.
- Kids would do anything to get some freedom to try out new things and learn from them. When they get it, they never want to do anything that’ll make them lose it.
Besides, your child most likely needs a safe way to talk to you about their problems.
It’s alright to set some boundaries, but build trust. Observe how they use that freedom and check their level of responsibility when you allow them some.
It will also give you a way to know that they’ll make the right choices while away in college.
Up Your Texting Game
On average, Gen Z (born 1996 to mid-2010s) spend up to five hours daily using their phones. They’re on social media most of three hours and texting for the rest of the time, sometimes doing both at once.
A 2018 LivePerson survey of 4,000 millennials and Gen Z proved that 75% prefer texting to in-person communication.
College students struggle with homesickness and sometimes are too distracted, or absorbed, to talk to someone. You can connect with your child, check up on them, and keep track of their well-being without actually being there.
And if you both establish this easy connection long before college, they wouldn’t miss a thing while away from home.
However, they should have someone to talk to physically. Encourage your child to make good friends and use the school’s mental health and wellness resources.
Check Out the College Together
Tour the college together and check out the campus community, program offerings, and opportunities. Schedule school tours well ahead of the school year, preferably before your child sends in their applications.
It will also help them make up their mind about their college preferences.
It’s a lot easier to help your child get set for college if they choose your alma mater. On average, 14% of undergraduates in US colleges are legacy students.
Besides, legacy students are five times more likely to get accepted into their college of choice.
But, it should be their choice to go to your former college. Gently encourage them by scheduling visits that let them experience the school spirit, but be sensitive to their interests.
College is expensive, and increasingly more so. You can get so absorbed worrying about the cost that you’d neglect the psychological and social challenges involved.
Then for those students that’d have to work through college or get a loan, the stress is even greater.
According to Peterson’s college timeline, you should have been planning your child’s college experience from the ninth grade. But even if you haven’t, the next best time to help prepare your child for college life is now.