Two Things for Parents to Know
Two things for parents to know as college nears…
They’re going to come back at least a little different than before.
They may talk a little different, be interested in new things, dress differently, or have new friends, among other things. They may keep different hours, come home every weekend or not want to come home at all. They may be very excited about what’s going on at college, or seem pretty bummed about it. They may have stopped (or started) going to church. They may talk endlessly about their classes, or not say a word (neither is necessarily an indicator of what you probably think…).
Regardless, it’s okay! And their changes are not a rejection of your way of life or the family’s beliefs. It’s just a reflection of them trying to find their way in a new environment, to find themselves, and to find people like them. They may or may not be happy with the choices they are making, or know what to do about it.
What is certain is they will need to talk. And you should provide lots of opportunities for that. Ask open-ended questions, and then listen. And unless there’s really a need for correction or advice, just listen. They’ll be thinking through things and you’ll get to see how they think and what they think. Don’t forget, you’ve been training them for this since they were born – don’t rob them of the opportunity to do things and decide things for themselves.
You might explain some of that to any younger siblings and/or a significant others too!
Did you know that you don’t have access to your student’s academic records?
Most parents are unaware of this, but unless your student requests it in writing, their professors and advisor are legally prevented from sharing any information about them with you (or anyone else for that matter). However, if your student is a minor and/or you still claim them on your taxes, there may be a way to gain that access without their consent. Check with your child’s school for more information.
The law that protects your student’s records (and that’s really what the law does) is called FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). I’ve literally heard arguments between students and parents about this – the parent insisting the student submit the form granting them access. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m always tempted to go tell the student “Don’t worry, there’s another form you can fill out when school starts that revokes the access your parent just made you give them…”
The bottom line is that parents want the information, and the students have it (or at least have access to it). Discussing the subject with your student before they go to college, is the best strategy. And as long as they share information with you, there won’t be any need for you to talk to anyone else anyway.
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