Parents Role in the Transition to College

When a student heads off to college, parents can have varying degrees of communication and importance in a student’s life. Gone are the days of the college “Sunday night call” with parents. With cell phones and texting, the frequency of communication has been ramped up significantly. It’s easy for a student to ask a parent a question, or to fill a parent in on exactly what is happening at all times of the day. This creates many new questions to explore. Should a parent have access to their child’s grades? Should a parent have the contact information of their students professors and TA’s? Should a parent track their child’s movements on GPS? How often should parents and students be communicating? And how involved, if at all, should parents be in their student’s academics?

When a student, particularly one who needed a lot of support through high school, heads off to college, parents have to figure out how they fit into the picture. They no longer have the schedules, daily tasks, or even social life to manage for their child. Parents are now on the outside looking in. It can be incredibly difficult for parents to figure out how to communicate with their child and how often to do it.

When a kid heads off to college, parents do not need to be hovering over their child’s grades, study schedule, or upcoming assignments. Rarely has a parent micromanaged a student’s academics from afar and been successful. Being nosy about academics can cause issues for students. It can make them feel resentment towards their parents, make them feel like they are incapable of doing well in college, or just create anger and frustration. Generally, this will result in toxic interactions and less trust. The best role a parent can play is cheerleader and advisor. Parents should be focused on their child’s experience, how things are going, and how they’re spending their time on campus. Therefore, if parents can find the right balance to give their student freedom and support in college, it can help the college student be more successful.

But what if a student isn’t quite ready to handle all of it on their own? This is where an academic coach can help facilitate the transition to college and support the student academically. One of the most difficult challenges for students is being accountable. As a high school student, they may have had their parents poking and prodding them to do homework and assignments. In college, the prodding (usually) goes away. This can often be the downfall of college students: the inability to keep working. A coach, with weekly check-ins, can help a student set goals, lay out plans, and then execute their plans. This can be beneficial for a variety of reasons, one of which is allowing the parent to be the cheerleader and advisor.

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