28 Jan How College Parents Can Support Their Students To Be More Independent
College students won’t feel independent unless they have plenty of practice!
Although we may not think of independence as a trainable skill, there are plenty of techniques parents can use to make their students feel in control of their lives. Students who have experience taking on extra responsibilities won’t feel as overwhelmed with the freedom college life can provide.
While it may be challenging for parents to loosen the reins, micromanaging a student’s life won’t make them more independent and resourceful. If you want to help guide your student into adulthood, you should consider these tips for the new semester.
Start With the Financials
Every family has different means of funding their student’s college education, but money is always a central part of the adult world. If students don’t already feel knowledgeable about money matters, then college will force them to re-evaluate their relationship with finances.
According to recent statistics, most college students borrow on average $30,000 to attend university. Researchers also claim that over 50 percent of students between 15 – 23 opt to take on student loans.
Understandably, many college students report significant stress surrounding money matters. In fact, data from Ohio State University suggests at least 70% of college students have “significant anxiety” with financial-related issues. Nearly 60% said they worry about having enough money to pay for school.
And it’s not just loans that are putting college students on edge. Half of students surveyed are also concerned about paying their monthly expenses. Recent reports on CreditCards.com found that students are increasingly struggling to pay their credit card bills.
From 2012 to 2019, the average number of students who paid credit card bills on time went from 91% to 78%. Researchers also point out that just about 60% of students always paid the full amount of their credit card bills in 2019.
Since cash is such a significant symbol of independence (and a substantial source of stress), it makes sense to focus on smart money habits before or during a student’s college experience. After all, students aren’t genuinely independent if mom or dad is still in charge of their bank account!
Visit the Bank And Start a Budget
If students don’t already have a checking and savings account, parents should encourage them to set up an appointment with a bank near campus. Students should already be familiar with managing money and living on a budget before college — and if they’re not already, now is a great time to start. They can start by listing their average expenses, loans, and other financial obligations to create a budget. Seeing all of this info laid out on the table (or tablet!) will help students get into the habit of managing their finances.
Parents and students should also schedule a monthly time to check-in on how they are doing.
In addition, students can find financial literacy courses and seminars online or at their campus to help them manage their finances.
Other Tips To Share With Your College Student
Start Small in Your Safe Space — Use At-Home Time for Prep Work
A controlled home environment is the best place for students to take small steps (and tumbles!) into the world of adulting before or during their college years.
Parents should consciously reign in the desire to control their student’s life during this transitional period. This means encouraging students to be responsible for setting their own schedules, making medical appointments, and waking up on time.
If your student has prescriptions, they should transfer all the info to their new pharmacy. Students should also take on responsibilities like cleaning, traveling, and shopping for groceries.
Speaking of cleaning, parents can highlight the importance of organization in a successful life. Studies out of Stanford show that keeping a well-organized space has enormous psychological effects. Parents should nudge their students to consider these useful habits — because they probably will reflect in their grades!
Encouraging students to take on these responsibilities will give them way more confidence about handling college and campus life.
On the Taboo Topics — Have Plenty of Honest Talks
Many parents shy away from topics like sex, alcohol, andd drugs but avoidance won’t make a student more independent at college.
Considering these experiences are most associated with college liberation, they’re a core aspect of a student’s sense of independence. Therefore, parents should arm their students with the facts well ahead of time to help them make responsible decisions about their actions.
The best parents can do is have an open dialogue with their students. Even though it may feel awkward to talk about, students need to be able to ask people they trust for guidance.
Students also have to know the real risks associated with sex, alcohol and drugs. Hartford HealthCare now estimates one in four college students has an STD. The CDC also claims there were roughly 26 million new STIs in 2018, half of which were in students between 15 – 24.
Research from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse shows binge drinking is a significant problem for first-year college students. Recent statistics show 33% of all college students engage in binge drinking.
While parents should be careful not to preach, they should take the time required to explain the risks and standard protection strategies. Offering your students this valuable knowledge should make them more cautious on campus.
Asking for Help Is the Adult Thing To Do
Many college students believe that real adults have to figure out all their issues by themselves. In reality, when adults have questions or concerns, they should know how to ask for help.
Luckily for students, colleges have robust support systems to take advantage of. Unfortunately, many of these services go unused by students. For instance, recent data from a College Pulse survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed reported that 74% of students surveyed did not use available college counseling services during the pandemic.
Parents should help students realize that a great advantage of college is that there are so many excellent services and networking opportunities. Students should also know that asking for help when they need it is the mature thing to do. While it may not feel independent, admitting a need for assistance is an integral part of growing up.
Learn How to Invest Your Money
College should be a time when students learn wise ways to invest their funds, manage risk, and boost their credit scores. It may be worthwhile for students to research paper trading platforms to get a feel for investing. There are now many websites that allow users to simulate stock market investing without putting any money at risk. By using these platforms, students could develop their investment strategy before actually investing.
Getting exposure to “financial hygiene” before or during college should make students feel more confident spending their hard-earned money.
Download Umergency for Extra Security!
Of course, personal safety is another crucial part of college student independence. In previous posts, we’ve mentioned numerous strategies students could use to boost their sense of safety both on or off-campus. We’d recommend checking out one of these previous blogs for ideas on how students could remain safe.
However, the easiest way students can feel safe and independent in college is to download the Umergency app. As long as students have their mobile phone, Umergency will help them be prepared for any health or safety emergency–anytime, anywhere.
To find out more about how Umergency works, please check out this page.