While each college student’s experience is unique, most parents of college students share one, uniting characteristic: the desire to help their students gain independence and be successful. But parents’ pursuit can lead to misinformation on the Web, where cookie-cutter advice can be irrelevant at best and harmful at its worst.
Consider the following statements when reading tips and advice, to help you discern what information is valuable to you:
The transition from high school to the professional world looks different for everyone – with education, work experience, social growth, mentor relationships, service work, mistakes and triumphs as just a few of the components. Your student’s particular course to adulthood is his alone.
Although your role might vary from cheerleader to advisor to voice of reason, you’re limited to being an observer and not an active participant in your student’s life. Any advice that tells you to take charge or step in to move your student along or set things right is probably taking away his opportunity to gain independence.
Tuition has been trending upward for years, with little relief in sight. Finding the most sensible and affordable way to provide your student with education will take work. Expect to join your student in searching for scholarships and grants, researching federal aid programs, drafting and redrafting family and student budgets and making informed decisions about loans.
Any financial solution touted on the Web as a simple way to pay for college – whether it’s an annuity, savings plan, investment or loan – is likely to be complicated and riddled with small print and steep penalties.
The most expensive is not always the best, and claims at being “the best” – whether from a reliable source or not – don’t necessarily mean it’s the best for you and your student. Online college rankings usually hype Ivy League or private schools as “the best,” which also amount to the most expensive.
Even packing checklists for moving into the dorms include unnecessary items that rack up the bill, like over-the-top dorm décor and a technology arsenal complete with the latest computer, printer and scanner, which can be found and used for free in your student’s library. Common sense and a frugal filter can go a long way in distinguishing what costs are necessary.
When you search “college internships” and yield 8.7 million results, it can make the topic seem epic and your mission to find and follow the golden nuggets of advice buried within Google quite overwhelming. But whether your student’s current challenge is applying for college, choosing a major, landing an internship or securing a job, it’s not worth it to be wrought with stress. For you or your student.
No advice you come across should guarantee you results, and living in the moment – instead of glued to the computer screen looking for similar situations or plans of action – will be your best guarantee for finding a solution.