It all comes down to this moment. We have toiled, prayed, and planned for this moment since this child was a baby. The moment is high school graduation. Our baby is now all grown up and is heading off to college. How do we help them prepare for college successfully? How do we give them a firm foundation that they can stand on when they are away from home at college? Here are six steps we can take to help our children succeed in college.
In the Bible, Paul mentions in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray continually. Prayer is one of the most important things we can do for our children. Pray for the child’s safety but also pray for the child’s academic success. Pray that God will allow our child to meet people who will assist them in making good decisions and help them to succeed. We should also pray with our child and let them know that we will be praying for them while they’re in school. Prayer can help to elevate fears – our fears and the fears our children may have of leaving home and beginning a new life.
2. Let go
As a parent, we have to be willing to let go. While our child has to be ready to go to college, we as parents also have to be ready to let our child go. Our child needs to know that we will be okay so that they can concentrate on being a success in college. Yes, our children will miss us and may even wish they were back at home with us, but we must reassure our child that while we will miss them, that we are okay with them leaving and starting a new life. It is natural for children to leave the nest. And yes, it can hurt but we as parents have to let go.
3. Keep communication open
Sometimes when children leave home they forget that there’s such a thing called a telephone. Let them know that we want to hear from them. Reassure them that it’s okay to call home not just when they get good grades or when they want money but also if they receive a disappointing grade or need someone to talk to. College students sometimes try to shield their parents from a lot of things, thinking that they will only worry.
4. Give them their space
Children leave home to go to college not just to get a degree, but also as a sign of independence. Try to respect this transition into adulthood. We shouldn’t visit our child every weekend on campus. College is a time when students need to learn to take care of themselves. They need time to study, to meet people and to make new friends. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ever visit them or not call them. The key here is to keep it to a reasonable level.
5. Talk about finances
In addition to studying, money or the lack of it, will be a big issue our college student will face. Many students graduate college in a mountain of debt and many times this debt is credit card debt. College students are surrounded by credit card companies and schemes to get them to sign up for credit cards. We need to help our child to remain out of debt as much as possible by discussing with them the responsible use of credit cards. Or, alternatively, getting a card that either has a low limit such as $500 or a credit gift card that money can be loaded onto, so they can only spend that amount. These types of cards are available at some banks and credit card companies.
6. Talk about worship
Sometimes when children go off to college they tend to leave church and worshiping God behind. It can be frightening going to a new church all alone without family. If a child needs help in this area, we can either visit the church with them or we can call the church office to introduce ourselves and our child over the phone. Have someone who can be there to greet them when they visits the church. Many churches located in metropolitan areas have college programs and some even have a college minister on staff. We need to encourage our child to grow and deepen in their faith. Academic success is not more important than having a growing relationship with the Father. As Jesus said “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
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