Summer Checklist for Parents of Graduating Seniors: What Can You Do to Ensure Your Child’s Success After High School?
May 9th, 2011 by Lori S. Grandstaff
Congratulations! Now that May 1st has passed, and your student has decided where to go to college, you should be proud that your child is on the brink of a new life stage! Soon it will be time for your graduating high school senior to step across that magical threshold into the new and wonderful world of college. Take a few moments to read and think about the things listed below that you can do this summer to make the next three months a time of successful transition for the entire family.
[ ] Verbally recognize your child’s accomplishments to‐date…not every student completes high school and not every student decides to pursue higher education. You have a lot to be proud of, so communicate that to your child.
[ ] Actively listen to your child’s plans for the future…it’s a great time to talk about what the upcoming weeks and months might be like in a new living environment and with new surroundings. If your child will participate, explore ideas for future life dreams and goals that range from 2 to 10 years away. You may just learn something new.
[ ] Be supportive if your child expresses uncertainty over the future – talk rationally and logically about any concerns, and encourage your child to brainstorm possible scenarios and solutions for things that seem problematic. Reassure your student that you have confidence in his/her ability to face whatever challenges arise.
[ ] Help your student identify resources for all types of college issues as well as life‐in‐general issues. Gather specific answers that are relevant to the college he/she will attend in the fall. Which campus offices can he/she go to for academic help? Where are the health and counseling offices on campus? Which grocery stores and gas stations are nearby? Where will he/she go for routine auto maintenance, like oil changes and tire rotation? Talk through these issues this summer, before your child heads off in search of solutions on his/her own.
[ ] Encourage your child to make lists of what to do before college starts. This could include handling bank accounts, debit cards and possibly credit cards. It could also include recording ideas for what to pack and things to take (laptop, printer, etc.). Make sure it includes adding important dates to the calendar for things that should not be overlooked this summer, like tuition payment deadlines, freshman orientation dates, academic advising appointments, and such. This is his/her list and responsibility, but organizational support from mom or dad will likely be appreciated during this transitional time.
[ ] Continue to be a teacher for your child. It’s okay for you to try and share your knowledge about how to do things like cooking, laundry, handling money and caring for a car. It’s also okay for you to try to explain your thoughts about handling new social situations that may be more advanced and complicated in a campus setting, such as drugs, alcohol and sex. Hopefully your child has already heard about this from you in years past, and hearing them talked about in a grown up way will reinforce the values and beliefs of your family.
[ ] Understand that your child is not perfect. No one is. And that’s okay. This is a time for learning, and there may be some mistakes made along the way. Be forgiving. And be patient.
[ ] Be present. Enjoy sharing some time together before college starts. Make some great summer memories that will remain fresh in your mind once your student is out of the house.
[ ] Realize that your student may be worried about leaving more than just you. Your student is also dealing with the pending separation from friends and siblings. Try not to make this time just about you and your child – it is much bigger than that for him/her, and it will help if you acknowledge that.
[ ] Be accessible…always. This summer transition is not necessarily about “the end” of childhood…it’s about a “new beginning” and the start of an adult relationship that will be full of great things to come!