Tips to Help At-home College Students Gain Independence
College is a time for students to gain independence and transition to adulthood. But for students who live at home, this process looks different. Consider the following ways parents can be intentional about fostering growth in their at-home college students:
Make sure your student has her own bank account and budget. Empower her to be in control of her money and aware of how to plan for upcoming expenses. Don’t allow her to ask you for lunch money or a few spare bucks before she heads out for the day. Consider working out an agreement for her to pay for her own groceries and cook her own meals — if not every night, then once or twice a week — especially as her schedule fills up and she isn’t home for family meals.
Change up the chore arrangements if your family has always done chores a certain way. Instead of one family member being in charge of laundry for the family or cleaning all of the bathrooms, consider giving your student independence from the family. Make your student responsible for her own laundry, her own bathroom and cleaning the areas of the house that she uses.
As parents, you still have say over what happens under your roof. But as parents trying to allow your student independence, you can limit how much you say. Consider setting a few ground rules, like no friends over after midnight, but then step back and give your student space. While it might have been realistic to meet all of your student’s friends in high school, that should change now.
Allow your student to learn how to balance priorities and manage her time. Don’t act like her alarm clock and wake her up, remind her to study or schedule doctor appointments or other events for her. Even if you know your student is going to be late or is procrastinating on writing a paper, don’t say anything. Let her learn these lessons on her own.
Students live at home for many reasons — to save money, health issues, fear of independence or comfort. If your student is home because she’s afraid — or too lazy — to move out, or she thinks she needs the support and presence of her family, talk to her about the benefits of living away from home. And if your student is home because you want her there, reflect on your motivations and if a change would be best for her growth.
If your student will live on her own at some point in college, it will benefit both you and your student to have a move-out day on the calendar, with action steps to get there, like saving up enough money, finding a roommate, choosing the right place to live, etc.