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Keeping in Touch With Your College Student

By Kayla McCormack · August 03, 2023 · 6 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

Keeping in Touch With Your College Student

As a parent, learning how to communicate with college students can be a challenge. Adjusting to college is an emotional transition for the whole family, but keep in mind that this is an important phase in a young adult’s life that helps to prepare them for the real world.

To help keep the lines of communication open, it can be a good idea to set up regular calls and do your best to support your child without nagging. If you maintain a strong connection without overdoing it, they might even divulge more of the good times, and you’ll be able to share in the full experience of their new adventure.

Here are some tips for parents on how to stay close with college students, even if they now live many miles away from home.

Tips for Communicating with College Kids

Be Their Ally

It’s tempting to want to make sure your kid is taking care of themselves: Are they eating enough vegetables? Are they making friends? Are they partying too much?

Your parental instincts are inevitable, but you’ll want to avoid nagging. Try to be their ally instead. Of course, it’s important to check in on them and make sure everything’s okay, but you’d be surprised to find that the more freedom you give them to make their own decisions, the more they may share with you.

Recommended: Dealing With Helicopter Parents in College

Let Them Know They Can Talk to You

Along with being their ally, it’s also important for them to feel comfortable talking to you about more serious things. College is a major transition and many incoming students struggle with the adjustment.

If they are unhappy at their new school, they may be considering the possibility of transferring schools. It can be a good idea to make sure your child knows that they can talk to you about anything. That’s what parents are for, after all.


💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

Utilize Technology

Video chat is an incredible tool that wasn’t around back when parents were in college. These days, there are seemingly endless options to connect via video from FaceTime to Zoom to Google Hangouts and more. Video calls can be especially helpful for students who are far away from home.

If your child is not one to call you every day, you could set up a time once a week to catch up.

What to Talk About

Academics

While it may be forgotten among all the exciting aspects of college, taking advantage of the incredible educational resources on campus, working hard, and getting a solid education are some of the main reasons for attending university.

Without overwhelming your student, remind them that grades could have an impact on their plans after graduation.

Play to Your Strengths

While we’re on the topic of academics, you can also get involved in your child’s studies, if they ask for help. Aside from reminding them to focus: help them choose classes for their first semester; reread some Nietzsche or Aristotle along with them; or offer to be a second set of eyes for their papers. When they are choosing their major, you could help them realize what it is they’re passionate about.

Grown-Up Stuff

There are some things you may want to periodically bring up with your student that they likely won’t enjoy talking about, which involves money management, including student loans and budgeting. While these might not be on anyone’s list of the best ways to communicate with college students, it’s your duty as the parent to remind them.

It can be a good idea to have an ongoing dialogue about student loans and educate them on how not to make their debt even higher.

This is a conversation that can begin in high school when making the decision on which college to attend and what the financial impact will be for them and for you in the years to come.

As for budgeting, know that many young adults make financial mistakes in their early twenties. It’s okay — mistakes allow students to learn and adjust their habits moving forward.

However, if you can teach your student good spending habits, especially if this is their first time with a credit card, they’ll be thankful to you in the long run.

Share with your kids: 10 Money Management Tips for College Students

Future Plans

You may have a son or daughter who has dreamed of going to med school since they were little, but most students are unsure of what they want to do with their futures or what life after graduation will look like. This might be a common thread throughout their four years in college.

Find ways to make this conversation exciting and optimistic without asking the question they’ve heard a million times: “What do you want to do with your life?” The truth is, they might not know, even upon graduation, and that’s okay.

If they are considering graduate school, it could be useful to discuss what’s involved financially. Will they need additional student loans for grad school? Will you be able to help with any costs?

While these are just some guidelines on how to communicate with college students, ultimately, the best approach for you and your child depends on your relationship and your personality.

It’s recommended for a parent to find a healthy balance between staying involved and being overbearing. You can watch with pride from a healthy distance and still experience this exciting time in your child’s journey through young adulthood.


💡 Quick Tip: Parents and sponsors with strong credit and income may find much lower rates on no-fee private parent student loans than federal parent PLUS loans. Federal PLUS loans also come with an origination fee.

The Takeaway

The transition to college can be an overwhelming one, for both students and their parents. While your student is building their new life at school, you may find it challenging to keep in touch with them. Try setting a time for a weekly catch-up session with your child. Be open and honest with them and make sure they know that they can come to you with any questions, concerns, or issues they may be facing at school.

In addition to providing advice and guidance, you may also be helping your child pay for school. If your financial aid package (which may include grants, work-study, and federal loans) isn’t enough to cover the costs, you might also consider private student loans. If your child hasn’t yet established much credit, you will likely need to be a cosigner. Or, you might consider a private parent student loan.

Just keep in mind that private loans don’t offer government-sponsored protections, like forgiveness or forbearance, that come with federal student loans.

If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.


Cover up to 100% of school-certified costs including tuition, books, supplies, room and board, and transportation with a private student loan from SoFi.


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SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility-criteria for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

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