After all the streamers are put away, the honor cords and graduation pictures placed on the mantle with care, parents begin to turn their attention towards what we really have been working towards—college! If you’re like me, this has been a time filled with some anxiety but also immense joy and pride. As we prepare to send our kids to college, here are a few tips that you need to know before they go:
You’re no longer the all-knowing authority so permission must be sought. Make sure you complete the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act affectionately known as FERPA. This single document can be a lifesaver as it gives you access to your child’s grades, educational records, and allows for advocacy among college faculty administration. It may be found online, with the registrar, or it may be sent directly to your child’s school email address. Take note that your child will have to complete this as well and, in many instances, provide a passcode for you to utilize. It is wise to have a number of people with FERPA access in case your child is not as comfortable as you would think sharing certain information with you. You can find more information at the U.S. Department of Education website, www.ed.gov.
If your child is 18, they ARE an adult in the eyes of everyone (except you). Make sure you scope out all the new medical professionals they may need in their new home away from home. Although it is common for students to come home on a regular basis for appointments, there may be occasions where they’re not able to do so and you want to be prepared for that. You may want to give them a copy of their insurance card, their birth certificate, immunization and shot record, and any insurance that you purchase for them.
Communication is paramount and is a two-way street. With my third child headed off to college this month, I realize more than ever that communication is a premium and looks different for each child. Establish at least one day a week where your child is available to talk with the family for 15-20 uninterrupted minutes, by phone or Zoom. Resist the urge to ask, “how are classes going.” Why? Because it’s a common question and it’s probably something that they get tired of answering. This is the time for you to show up as your authentic self so ask the questions that you really want to know the answers to—are you happy? Making any friends? Have you attended any cool parties? Do you still feel like this is the right place for you?
Shawn Hall is a former US Department of Education Program specialist that resides in Mooresville. She is a scholarship and college admissions coach and the author of “Prepare Now, Don’t Pay Later.” For more information, visit allroadseducation.com.