Leaving the Nest: 4 Tips to Help Your Kids on Their Journey to College

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It happens so fast; you’re holding your baby in your arms, and then suddenly you wake up, and it’s their senior year of high school. Whether this is your first child to fly the coop or not, it’s never easy to let go. And you want to make sure that your child is prepared to face adult independence for the first time. These are four things you can do to make your child’s journey from teen to adult easier.

Pay as Much of Their Tuition as You Can

Some parents are fortunate enough to have college funds for their children. Others have had to worry about making ends meet. But no matter where you are on the financial spectrum, you can help ease the burden of tuition on your child. Student loan debt can be a burden on a freshly graduated college student. And your child hasn’t had a chance to build up their credit score yet. But you’re a parent with years of credit and financial know-how under your belt. It’s a lot easier for you to take out parent loans. Parent loans are offered by private lenders. You can use the money to pay for your child’s college tuition, board, meals — whatever their financial aid hasn’t covered. It’ll give both you and your child peace of mind going forward.

Make Sure They Know You’re There for Them

College is an overwhelming time. Your teen will be making their own choices and shaping their own life with full independence for the first time. And because they’re a teen who’s still getting the hang of things, they will make mistakes. Think about some of the mistakes you made when you were younger. There’s probably a laundry list. So, make sure that your child knows they can always call home. Give them a judgment-free place to talk about their feelings, experiences, and conflicts. Help them when they ask for help, and let them figure things out themselves when they want that instead.

Ask Them About Their Thoughts Before They Leave

This is a time of huge change and growth in your child’s life. What are they excited about? What are they nervous about? What experiences do they want to have, and how equipped to they feel to handle themselves? Just like with your unconditional support, you should be able to listen. Get to know the adult your child is becoming and encourage them to explore. Help them set the framework in place that they’ll need to get used to school.

Make Sure Your Child Has the Resources They Need

You don’t want to be a helicopter parent. For your child to flourish independently, they’ll need a support network. You can teach them how to reach out to their professors, investigate different campus clubs, and use the health resources on campus. If they have any disabilities requiring accommodations, help them learn to advocate for these in their classrooms. Don’t try to control your child’s life, but make sure they have what they need.

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