parenting

Education: Helping Your Kid Transition Into College

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College—Any mother can tell you that children start fighting for their independence almost as soon as they can talk. That balancing of their identities as separate individuals with the happiness of the family as a whole & is something that continues for many years.

But by the time a child does in fact leave for college, the struggle sometimes turns around the child has, in many ways, become independent, and the mothers may struggle with balancing letting their almost-adult children go while still providing whatever level of support is needed by that "child."

Preparing for college can be an exciting and stressful time for both the college student and the family. Taking steps to prepare for the transition into the college years is important for the entire family.

During a MomItForward Twitter Girls' Night Out (#gno) party in June, sponsored by YourCollegeKid.com, mothers of college kids discussed ways of coping, supporting, and communicating. Below are the Top 10 Tweet Tips, in order, concluding with links to the expert advice provided by YourCollege Kid:

Top 5 Tweet Tips for Handling the Separation

  1. Keep in touch with your college kid. How you do this will differ depending upon the school and your son or daughter, says @bcre8uv. It will also depend on your comfort level with texting and sites like Facebook and Twitter. Some tweeters swore by texting, because it's less invasive, while others said it's best to have a once-a-week, in-depth phone chat.
  2. Realize that, for most parents, the transition is difficult. @CollegesandKids offers this post on becoming an "empty-nester." @7onashoestrong says "Prepare yourself by something to fill the “void.” A hobby, job, group. Get busy!"
  3. Realize that, for most kids, the transition is difficult. Visit the campus with him or her and help decorate their dorm room with them, if possible. @CollegesandKids says, "Care packages were how I comforted my kids." Teach them tactics for living with roommates, says @yckmaureen, who offers this article.
  4. Remember the benefits of a college education. This was a surprisingly popular theme during this gno discussion. Remind yourself and your son or daughter frequently of the long-term benefits of what they're doing. @MomItForward summed it up well: "College teaches you more than academics: discipline, confidence, focus, determination, study habits, socialization."
  5. Make a new "normal" so places don't feel empty, says @annemateer. "Don't sit in your "normal" places at the table or while watching TV."

Top 5 Tweet Tips for Helping Your Kid Prepare for College

  1. @DuongSheahan says, first, set up a profile on CollegeBoard.com, (the nonprofit organization behind the AP and CLEP courses, as well as the SAT tests, among other things). Do the SAT Question of the day to help build vocab and prepare for the tests. Also, read her post: "Parent's Guide to College Applications."
  2. @7onashoestring, Staci Salazar, says "We began researching colleges during 9th grade year: SAT Prep course as well as college level courses." Along those same lines, @carydrews says, "The best advice we got was to increase honors courses each year."
  3. "Teach finances to your kids early, well before they head to college!" says@CoachForADHD. Check out the link on managing college credit card debt below for more on that.
  4. Many tweeters discussed the importance of making sure kids had jobs early on, as a means of preparation. Says @bigguysmama: "My kids had jobs at 16 and started paying for car insurance and phone bills or they didn't get to have them."@breaduh says her son "learned to WORK for his education...it wasn't a "given", it was a privilege!"
  5. Help your kids get a feel for how college is different than high school. Says @lucrecerbraxton: "We have kept it real about what college is really like. No one is there to tell you to turn in your homework."

The experts at YourCollegeKid.com offered these very helpful articles as well: on saying goodbyeon involving your parents in your kids' college experience, and on easing the transition for your son or daughter. See their site for more information.

Photo courtesy of Photosock.

How have you helped your kid transition into the college years? What steps did you take to make the transition easy not only for your college kid but for your entire family?

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