Sending a child to college is reminiscent to dropping her off for kindergarten. You wanted to hold her hand, walk her into the classroom, and stay until her tears dried. Now you want to unpack her entire dorm room, meet the RA, and email professors who seem to be treating your precious child unfairly. Sound familiar? Read on for tips to help your college student become more independent.131023_EQuest2_023

Teach them how to manage money

Hopefully, you’ve offered guidance about budgeting and managing bank accounts for several years. If not, get cracking! Many college freshmen don’t have first-semester jobs so they rely on savings for personal expenses. If they’re not careful, those funds will dry up quickly with midnight pizza runs, team sweatshirts for the big game, and road trips that you won’t hear about for years. Gently suggest a budget that will ensure the savings will last all semester (or academic year). Remind them to check their bank balance before making a purchase, and to avoid credit card offers the first year of college (just too tempting for a young student).

Let them fight their own battles

About those “unfair” professors… let your child deal with them! The story you hear from your child is probably vastly different from what the professor would relate. I can predict many of the issues your child will report to you – the material on the exam was not covered in class – the class is meant to “weed out” students so it’s super hard – the grading system is too tough – the professor has a heavy accent – the homework takes too much time. All of those excuses simply mean your child is not studying for the class or asking for help. A few bad grades early in the semester often help students kick it into gear.

Provide tough love, when needed

Our daughter called home crying her freshman year because she was on the brink of losing her scholarship. My husband was very understanding and told her not to worry. He suggested she finish the semester and then move back home, attend the local community college, and work part-time to pay tuition. We were not going to pay for her bad grades, or make up the difference for lost scholarship money. You can imagine how the story ended… she buckled down and earned the grades needed to keep her scholarship. The problem plagued her all four years because it’s tough to recover from a low GPA, but she earned excellent grades the next three years and is happily employed now. Tough love!

Love them, no matter what

Your college student will make mistakes, earn bad grades, make poor choices, or get in a bit of trouble, but it’s all part of growing up and learning how to be independent. If you are honest with yourself, you’ll recall the stupid things you did (even if no one was the wiser). Give them a break and love them – no matter what.

The college years pass all too quickly and soon enough you will be attending her college graduation. You’ll want to look back and know that you helped shape her into the independent thinker she was meant to be – mostly because you got out of her way.