What Do You Wish Your Soon-to-be College Student Knows?



by Fran Wahl —

The job of all parents is to help create productive, independent adults. We have been working toward this time for roughly 18 years, hoping and praying we've given you everything you need to be successful. We simultaneously love and hate that our children are ready to launch. Here are a few thoughts as they prepare to depart for their new life in college. If you are one of these parents, feel free to share these thoughts with your soon-to-be college student or maybe even one who has a semester or two on a transcript. And tell your student that if he or she was fortunate enough to have parents who could verbalize between bouts of tears, it couldn't hurt to hear them again.

Texts and emails are just ok....

But a phone call or Skype is the best. Hearing your voice, while learning about your professors, roommates or class lectures is like heaven! Stick to the facts, don't complain, and keep it as short as you need to make it count as a conversation. We are here for you, we know a few things. Lean on us. If you need to mark it in your planner so you don't forget, do it! Call us!

Don't just write on my Facebook wall.

While we're on the subject of phone calls, did you get that money I sent you?

A thank you communication is a must. Did you notice I paid your tuition this semester? Ditto!

We parents enjoy being thanked and appreciated. We may say "it's ok" but really, deep down, we want to know you are grateful for what you've been given. Wait, you say you are paying your tuition with student loans? Remember that simply the foundation of your K-12 education and roof over your head got you where you are today. Say thank you! And if you are fortunate enough to have most or all of the bill "footed" by your hardworking parents? It goes without saying that cartwheels of thanks are in order! Call us!

We would love it if some of our family's life lessons and traditions stuck with you.

If your family goes to church, temple, chapel or mosque, try to maintain at least some of that spirituality in your new life. Trinity and San Antonio offer a whole host of alternatives for spiritual growth and renewal, so take advantage of what you see around you. You would be surprised at how grounded you will feel by reconnecting to your roots. Yes, it can be intimidating that first time, but who knows? Maybe that nice girl from biology will be sitting across the aisle from you at mass. Now you have a partner to invite next week. Stranger things have happened. Call us and tell us about it after your adventure.

The interior of Trinity University's Parker Chapel.

Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll

This is a tricky one, but here's a secret you may not know about us parents. We were all where you are once. We may not have all been in a university setting, but we all found ourselves newly independent with new decisions to make. And ALL of us have made mistakes and done a few things we regretted later. We may have lost a few brain cells, but quite frankly, the majority of them were fully intact until sometime in the mid nineties (check your birth certificate to understand this reference). But we do remember!

Know this: mistakes happen, and we are here to help. Are you sitting in class Monday morning with a slight headache and a twinge of regret about the weekend's shenanigans? Maybe we don't' need to hear about it. Are you barely awake on Monday with little recollection of your weekend's activities, realizing your first two classes of the week have long been over? Then it might be time for a conversation. Come clean before grades come out, or before we find out through some other means that this may not be the best time or place for experimenting with new independence. These things have a way of working out, but not without the intervention of those who know and love you best. And that, my friend, is your parents. So, you guessed the next line. Call us.

LeeRoy the tiger mascot practices yoga.

Your absence will be noticed

Over the last 18 years you have been, at times literally, an appendage attached to us. Having you go off to college is a little like losing a body part...no joke! Just twist off my right arm! Whether you are the first or last to leave, heading across town or across the country, your departure drastically and irreparably changes the family dynamic. Neither our lives nor your lives will ever be the same, but that's ok. Your independence is a big check mark in the win column for dear 'ole Mom and Dad. Please just remember that we have feelings too. We like to be treated with kindness and respect. And we like the occasional phone call. 

About Fran

Having turned the term "domestic engineer" into a full time profession, Fran Wahl has experienced sending two of three children off to Universities. She frequently lobbies to have one of them choose real engineering as a major. In her spare time she volunteers in the local schools, and works as a substitute teacher. She also enjoys talking on her phone.

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