Special Summer Edition

posted Jul 14, 2012, 6:59 PM by Glenda Durano


Every fall, millions of students “leave the nest,” embarking on the transition to adulthood by attending college.  The path to university life involves much more than packing clothes and school supplies.  It’s an emotional journey as well as a physical one—for both parents and students—and today, we’ll examine both aspects.  First—the practical side; then the more impalpable one.

You might have thought that all the decision-making was finished when your student finally made his college choice.  Think again!  That was only the beginning.  Now’s the time for you and your emerging adult to tackle some tough topics.  However, because this summer is already a significant stressor, my suggestion is to take your student to lunch, and discuss the following items in a relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere. Consider the following:

  • ·      Is a car necessary for college?  Who pays for the parking permit, gas, insurance and the inevitable tickets?  Is public transit convenient or offered at a discount rate for students?  What will your student do if he needs to make a Walmart run? (Hint: Find a friend!) Is his car privilege tied to his grades?
  • ·      Does your student need to purchase or upgrade his computer?  Does the school supply free printing?  Should he take his own printer?
  • ·      Will your student (or you) purchase university health insurance or is he fully insured?  If he is insured, how will he find a health care provider?  Does the college clinic provide everything he needs?  What about a pharmacy?
  • ·      Has he registered for classes and will he attend orientation?  (If he hasn’t signed up yet for a freshman orientation, PLEASE reconsider.  It’s a HIGHLY BENEFICIAL process, and well worth any additional cost.)
  • ·      Has he outlined a way to take all necessary classes for majors, minors, and special programs within four years?  Granted, this may change (especially if, like most students, he changes his major), but if he has a plan, at least he has some idea of what’s required.  This is especially important if he intends to study abroad.  I realize this is not a “fun” exercise, but it is incredibly beneficial.  Sure, he’ll probably have an advisor who can help him, but now that he’s a big boy, he needs to take responsibility for his future!
  • ·      Has your student taken a look at the clubs and leadership positions available at school?  Is he eligible for and does he want to sign up for an honors track?  (If at all possible, I HIGHLY recommend it! “Honors” in college-speak means “smaller, more personal classes.”)
  • ·      Does he want to take any CLEP tests this summer and how will those transfer?
  • ·      What are the pros and cons of working on or off campus during the school year?
  • ·      Does your student have the “life skills” necessary for independence?  Can he balance a checkbook? Do his laundry? Manage his time? Make healthy and wise choices?
  • ·      How will your student find a church as well as a support group of like-minded students on campus?  He needs to be intentional in his relationships.

These are only a few of the practical things that parents and students should discuss.  For a more complete list, check the last lesson in the senior edition of my book The Christian’s Guide to College Admissions.

Finding solutions to concerns such as those listed above can be fairly easy; it just takes time and forethought.  Overcoming the emotional issues of the college transition process, however, can be much more difficult.

Throughout a student’s junior and senior years, the typical family endures a huge amount of stress.  Depending on the help and guidance they have received, some families’ financial and emotional health may be rather fragile.  As parents, we want our children to “live happily ever after” on campus, but we are somewhat concerned about their future.  We’ve tried our best, but now our time is up!  As our children embark on this exciting journey, suddenly the apron strings are severed, and our hearts bleed with anxiety.

Parents’ worries, however, are nothing compared to our students’ angst!  I’ll never forget when I took my last child to campus.  We’d always had an excellent relationship, but at student and parent orientation, suddenly she acted as if I didn’t exist. She walked 10 steps in front of me, and barely spoke a word to me the entire weekend. Because of the energy I’d spent with her in her college search, I was hurt and confused…and I let her know it.  She apologized, but continued her strange behavior.  During one orientation session, when the parents and students were separated, the adult leader of the “first year experience” at my daughter’s university spoke.  She began by asking, “How many of your students are acting really strange these days?”  Every parent in the room—bar none—raised her or his hand.  “That’s because,” the dean continued, “your student has only one question on his or her mind.  That question is ‘Will I be okay?’”  The dean went on to explain about the root and intensity of freshman anxiety, when to expect homesickness (mid-October), and things that we, as parents, could do to tangibly support our students.  She entreated us to “be the adults,” take the high road, and love our kids unconditionally—despite their bizarre conduct .  I followed her advice, and shortly, just as the dean had promised, my daughter’s strange behavior disappeared.

The first-year college experience is definitely “an experience.”  Allow your student to blossom and become the person that God intended her to be.  Encourage your student to find someone to keep him accountable, especially if he is attending a large institution.  Ask your student how YOU can help her grow and flourish in this exciting time of transition. Maintain frequent, loving contact and offer support through prayer and practice, enabling him to become both an independent young adult and a fully dependent child of God.  The journey isn’t over; it’s just begun!  Enjoy the time and remember:  You didn’t’ raise your child to stay at home.  You raised her to make a difference in the world. Parents can give their children two things—roots and wings.  It’s time for them to fly!

If you have a student who is in high school and needs one-on-one guidance, please contact College Advising and Planning Services at 505-918-7669 or write to glendadurano@gmail.com.  Our comprehensive program includes career assessments, activity advising, financial aid information, creation of a college list, tips on school visits, application assistance, essay editing, and much more! Discounts are available to all students who sign up prior to August 1st. 

Remember our free “College Knowledge” workshop at Cherry Hills Library on Monday, August 27th at 6:30 pm:  “College Admissions:  What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You.”

As always, please forward this newsletter to other friends who might be interested in college planning information.  Do remember to check out the “upcoming deadlines” section of the website for a monthly calendar of what you should be doing this month to stay on track with the college planning process.

Additionally, you can “like” our FACEBOOK page (College Advising and Planning) where I post interesting articles and videos about college planning.