There are so many ways parenting a college student differs from the younger years.
Remember all those games/concerts/performances you watched, and how you actually knew the other kids/coaches/instructors? And parent-teacher conferences — my sons attend a large public high school, but a few times a year I do get to sit across a table from their teachers and discuss their progress, challenges, and goals.
Don’t get me wrong — I am very okay with my blissful ignorance about most of the nitty gritty details of my college sophomore’s daily life. (Emphasis on “gritty” — when I visited him recently, he warned me, before showing me around his new dorm, “My room is messy.” No, really? I am shocked, shocked!) I know what courses he is taking, but not where and when they meet, or what his classroom experiences are like. I’ve heard about awesome professors and track coaches but haven’t met them (and likely never will). Drop me in the middle of the main quad of his Massachusetts campus 2,000 miles away and I could find my way to major landmarks — the dining hall, library, and athletic fields — but would be stumped if asked to locate the student health center or the science building where he works as a teaching assistant.
Again, this is as it should be. He is living his own life now, and learning to be capable and independent. But I would love to feel more connected to his school — to understand and appreciate it more fully, and to support its mission. How do parents of college students engage?
Turns out, there are many ways. Schools truly appreciate parental contributions (and not just financial ones). Expert Priscilla Childress suggests these opportunities to volunteer and be supportive both on and off campus:
These are just a few ideas for getting involved. Check with your student’s college or university to discover more!
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