Amy used her new cell phone to call home every week when she started college. Her Mom would respond, “Oh, Amy, I hope you are well. We miss you so much. Little Pam keeps saying, ‘When is Amy coming home?’”
Amy endured the weekly tugs on the guilt strings for six weeks, then she came to my office to do the paper work to drop out. Her short college career was partly due to Mom’s unintentional focus on the negative.
Parents can help with college adjustment by keeping the calls up-beat, the pressure about jobs, money, and grades as low as possible.
Our surveys show that only 10% of college dropouts have grades too low. Working and living far from campus are the most outstanding differences between the successful college students and the dropouts, the surveys show. Most dropouts work too many hours at an outside job too far away.
Parents may be proud of sons and daughters who juggle busy schedules of jobs and school, but if the job takes over, the only parts of the college experience left to quit may be the classes. All the other advantages of college, ski clubs, travel groups, politically active groups, have been crowded out by job hours. Encourage your college-bound son or daughter to live and work close to the school environment and work only the necessary hours at an outside job.
Trouble selecting a major and a career is another large factor in the dropout statistics. Most state universities have 100 or more majors, but few first-time students can name 20! No wonder over 90% of freshmen change their major somewhere along the way.
Parents can help here also by talking over the majors represented in the early required courses and keeping the pressure to make an early decision low. One primary advantage of college is to educate your new student about the variety of life’s opportunities.
Students are often tempted to put off the decision about a major by leaving college for “a year off.” But if college is viewed as a source of information about choices, then staying in makes sense. Little is lost by taking courses to explore the wide range of majors and careers before making this important decision. It’s a long way from graduation to retirement!
Most colleges have career counselors who can be a great help if they are in on the early planning. With their help in the first year or two, both the student’s interests and the practical side of career training can usually be accommodated.
Habits, usually started at home such as sleeping, diet, and alcohol make up dangerous pitfalls in the college journey. College students are young enough to be one of the most healthy groups in our society, yet they have a poor health record. Parents of teens with a year or two of high school left can prepare their sons and daughters for the challenges of caring for themselves and their time and money.
The mail boxes of most college students will be filled with offers of sales and credit cards that soon require more payments that lead to more hours at work. Caution your college student to keep life simple with few obligations to make payments on cars, credit, and clothes.