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 try to support your child without nagging, setting times for catching up, and let them know that they can come to you with any issues. 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 communicate with college students and some discussion topics.
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 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.
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 son or daughter knows that they can talk to you about anything. That’s what parents are for, after all.
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 son or daughter is not one to call you every day, you could set up a time once a week to catch up.
What to Talk About
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.
There are some things you should 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 their list of the best ways to communicate with college students, it’s your duty as the parent to remind them.
It’s considered important 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. This is what mistakes are for — to learn from them and adjust your habits moving forward.
But 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
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 would 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.
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, parents may find it challenging to keep in touch with them. Try FaceTiming, or 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.
Part of parenting is providing advice and guidance, and after graduation that may include assisting as your child figures out how to repay their student loans. One avenue you can look into is student loan refinancing. It’s not for everyone — especially if you have federal student loans and you plan to use their benefits and protections, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness or deferment or forbearance. Benefits and protections like these that come with federal student loans are forfeited once federal student loans are refinanced with a private student loan.
Refinancing could help you (or your student) lower monthly payments or shorten the loan term. Note that lowering the loan’s monthly payment generally results from extending the loan term, which may make the loan more expensive in the long run. At SoFi, there are no application fees or pre-payment penalties and SoFi members get access to benefits like career coaching and financial advice at no additional cost.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
If you are looking to refinance federal student loans, please be aware that the White House has announced up to $20,000 of student loan forgiveness for Pell Grant recipients and $10,000 for qualifying borrowers whose student loans are federally held. Additionally, the federal student loan payment pause and interest holiday has been extended beyond December 31, 2022. Please carefully consider these changes before refinancing federally held loans with SoFi, since the amount or portion of your federal student debt that you refinance will no longer qualify for the federal loan payment suspension, interest waiver, or any other current or future benefits applicable to federal loans. If you qualify for federal student loan forgiveness and still wish to refinance, leave unrefinanced the amount you expect to be forgiven to receive your federal benefit.
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Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.
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