When your child goes off to college, the experience can be an onerous one for you and your child. You can do many things to make going off to school a good - or unpleasant - experience, says LSU AgCenter family life professor Dr. Diane Sasser.
The family expert lists what not to do.
• Don’t ask if your child is homesick. This doesn’t make the separation better. The first few weeks of college are great, usually filled with meeting new friends and activities, but after the hype dies down, it is sometimes hard to get accustomed to university life. This is a natural part of adjusting to a new situation. If they don’t think about being homesick, students usually aren’t, but when reminded, they realize how much they miss home.
• Don’t ask too many questions. Parental questioning can sometimes be overbearing. Let your child become independent. You might not be able to know where your child is at every waking hour of the day, but trust him or her to make the right decisions.
• Don’t panic when you receive depressing phone calls or letters. Sometimes college freshmen have problems that are too much to bear, with issues like a flunking a test, ending a friendship and shrinking their clothes all in one day. Take time to listen and try to calm them down. If you panic with them, you’ll only add to the stress. If they know you are supportive, they will feel more confident in themselves.
• Don’t expect a clean room. College students have a million things to think about such as school, a part-time job, making new friends, etc. They usually don’t worry about how clean their rooms are. A planned visit is always better than dropping in. This gives them a chance to pick up.
• Don’t tell them that their college years are the best times of their life. Freshman year can be full of disappointments, mistakes and insecurity. It takes a while to realize that perceptions of what they heard about college were wrong. It also takes a while to accept themselves for who they are.
• Don’t expect them to make the same grades that they made in high school. College is very different from high school; it may take your child a while to adjust to the college atmosphere.
"Parents need to realize and accept the highs and lows of that first year in college," Sasser says, adding, "Be encouraging."
For information on related family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site at www.lsuagcenter.com. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.