College is an exciting time for students of all ages. It’s a time when they get to explore new ideas and learn about themselves, as well as the world around them.
College can also be a challenging adjustment, which is why parents need to make sure they are there every step of the way, offering support and guidance whenever required.
Here are compiled seven chats you should have with your kids before they start their college journey:
1. What Are Your Academic Interests?
At college, students are expected to have a specific area of study or academic interest. Both parents and their children need to discuss this before they even begin the application process.
By knowing your child’s interests early on, you can guide them into picking the right major that will help them succeed in their educational goals.
It would be best if you also chat about other interests that your child wants to pursue. Maybe your child wants to explore their creative side and start a band.
If that’s the case, then it means they may need to apply for an art college with an emphasis on music.
Alternatively, your son or daughter might be interested in sports such as football and rugby. If so, make sure you know which universities have sports programs that will allow them to continue their athletic career.
2. What College Are They Aspiring to Join?
At times, this is a sensitive topic between parents and their kids. Some parents may want their children to go to a prestigious school because they went there. You also need to consider the quality and reputation of each college before deciding which one you should send them off to.
You can always start by asking what colleges or universities are popular in the area where your child lives, then have a list of colleges that friends and family have recommended.
The list will help you narrow down your choices as you work with them on the final decision to ensure they are going somewhere where their skillset can be put to good use.
Have a conversation with your child on the college of their interest. You can start by asking how they found out about the school. If your child wants to join a specific college, then find out why.
Ask what they like most about it and if any areas have made them consider applying for admission.
By learning more about what the college of their choice offers, you can help them narrow down on a career path and major.
For example, if your child is seeking a career in travel, it may help to ensure that the college of their choice contains an ESOL program meaning that they can teach English to foreign students all over the world.
It would help if you learned more about their chances of being admitted into this university because grades do not always dictate the outcome.
If your child has a low GPA but good extracurricular activities, they may have a chance of being accepted because colleges are looking for students who can impact campus life.
3. What Type of Career Do You Want in Ten Years?
After college, your child may want to pursue a specific career path or work in more than one field. The best way of ensuring that they know what area of study will help them get there is by having an open conversation about their future goals and aspirations.
You can start the discussion on how colleges shape students’ career plans. Ask your child what they think colleges do to help them achieve their career goals and how they will work after graduation.
Then, have a conversation about whether or not college is necessary for this particular field of interest. You can also ask if there are other careers in the same industry, but would these jobs still be available without a degree?
4. How Much Money Will You Need to Live Comfortably While At School?
Talking about money should be an ongoing conversation between you and your child. It is fundamental to teach them how much it costs to live independently and what they need for college life.
Ask what kind of allowance they receive at school or extracurricular activities they can do to earn money.
You also need to talk about the cost of living at their chosen college and how much it will be if they decide on a particular place where you will not have any influence over the price.
Discuss with them whether or not there are other schools in your area with lower fees and ask what they think is a reasonable amount to pay for their college expenses. It will also be good to teach them how to budget the money they have when school starts.
5. Do You Know How Much Student Loan Interest Rates Are?
Every college graduate knows how much a student loan can cost them even before they start paying. But do your kids know what the interest rates are and how they will affect their budget?
It will be best if you have this conversation with them as soon as possible so that they would already know where they stand and what they need to do when the time comes.
You can also ask if the college has a career center that offers counseling on how much debt is manageable and what repayment options are available for those who already have student loans.
Tell your child that the first thing they should be looking into as soon as they graduate is finding a job with good pay and benefits so that they can start paying their student loans as quickly as possible.
Make sure they are aware that student loans will affect several aspects of their lives, like their credit score, which can affect if they will be able to purchase a car, house, or even carry a credit card in the future.
6. How Do You Feel About Managing Your Bank Account?
You may want to let your child manage their bank account when they are in college because it teaches them how to be responsible with money.
But before you do that, make sure that they know the basics of managing a checking or savings account and using debit cards responsibly. They should also know what steps to follow if there is a problem with the account.
If you are not comfortable letting your child take care of their bank accounts, make sure they have a debit card that only has a certain amount on it.
Teach them how to check for fraudulent charges. You can also talk about credit cards if they want one but must first discuss its pros and cons before getting one.
7. The Sex Conversation
Now that they are in college, it will be normal to think about relationships and dating. You need to talk about the consequences of having sex and birth control methods available today, like condoms and hormonal pills.
It is also important that you tell your child how much emotional connection there should be before engaging in such activity with another person.
Ensure that they know if someone is pressuring them into having sex, what kind of language should be used when talking about sexual activities, and the importance of using protection.
You can also talk about rape culture, consent, and date rape drugs so your child will have a better understanding of protecting themselves from any unwanted advances or situations.
Stress to them the importance of their studies. College should be a place where they are cultivating their minds, not their desires. It’s always best advice to state that one should never give up what they want most, for something they want at the moment.
By focusing on their studies during this time, students can set themselves up for success later in life, and provide a better life for their future families.
Conclusively, make sure that you have a dialogue with your child about all of these topics before they go to college. Such conversation ensures that when the time comes, both of you will be prepared for any eventuality.
College should be an exciting time in their lives that they look back on with fond memories full of perseverance and achievement.