College is hard on the parents too!
You thought you packed every possible thing they might need. You even remembered that blister Band-Aids might come in handy for some reason. You included the throat lozenges, and vitamin C in hopes they might feel compelled to do some preventative care. You reminded them to have fun, but within reason, to be responsible and oh yeah, careful and then even added, “Don’t forget to go to class.”
But somewhere in there, things might have gotten chaotic. Parties that started out only on Fridays and Saturdays, then slowly crept into the weekdays too. Outings and late nights became a daily event and classes, well, they got harder and harder to get to and keep up with. Perhaps that was also when phone calls home seemed to be vague and you had the sense that maybe, just maybe, you weren’t getting the whole picture. Or perhaps you were blessed with the son/daughter that told it like it was.
“I want to come home.”
The words ring in your ears, as your heart races and you feel frozen in time. Shocked. All those hours spent on applications, college visits, essays and keeping up the high school grades, suddenly it was all coming to a crashing end, before it has even begun? How could this have happened? What did I do? What didn’t I do that I should have done? And now what am I supposed to do?
You put on your most confident and empathetic hat you can find and begin to reason with them why they should stay and how it will get better. All the while, though, you do wonder if your words are true.
College IS hard! Not just because of the amount of work, or the intensity of the work needed, but also because there is a constant pull for independence, a yearning to be with friends, to have a good time and to do…well…what everyone else is doing. What makes it even harder is that some kids, even with little sleep, all niters and lots of parties, they can make up for it in the way they organize and study, while many others, unfortunately, can not.
What can you do?
Help! Truthfully, they need it way before they reach out to say they need it, and the first thing to do is stay calm and reasonable and unattached to how their story goes. This is their journey and ultimately they will have to decide, but you can help! If you feel like they haven’t given it a fair chance to even see what is possible, then help them quickly to create some success. Let them know you will support them. And then choose to stand in that space. Then offer some suggestions.
Opportunities will create Possibilities:
1 – Hire a tutor: If a class is too challenging, hire someone that can work with them once a week so they can stay on top of their work and gain quick success. They will gain confidence in themselves as they see their grades improve and begin to see an outline of how they ‘should’ study.
2 – Organization: Telling them not to go out and socialize is not the answer. They need to get organized! Do they have a planner? If not, they should get one right away. If they are open to your help, teach them how to map out the day and week so they can plan their social life around the work they have to do for school.
3 – Anxiety: Are they constantly stressed out? It is typical for human beings to feel anxiety and stress when they are unorganized and don’t know what to do to fix it. The thought of all the ‘things I have to do’ runs amok in their head all day, creating more stress and less productivity. Creating a daily routine on paper will help tremendously, as will yoga or meditation classes, or even an intense daily cardio workout.
4 – Hire a Life Coach: Why? Because often our kids hear our advise as another lecture hall and tune it out. Yet with someone who is committed to whatever needs they have, they become open to creating balance and well being in their college life. They willingly take coaching on ways to organize without fear of being told to skip the parties. They also establish a safe relationship with an adult that is based on trust and allows them to be vulnerable and honest, without the lecture. The best part, is that having a Life Coach offers them a new perspective that they can take with them anywhere they go, about living the life they want, have the balance they need, and learning to keep stress and anxiety at bay. They learn to take control of their life.
We could all use a little more of that!
And lastly, don’t worry about the expense of getting them help. A few hundred dollar investment now, will save you from an extra year or two finishing college, and help him/her experience success through college and beyond.