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A Parent's Guide: What to Expect of Your First Generation College Student

by Tim Brunicardi on September 13, 2017

Congratulations! You're about to send your child to college. While you're justifiably proud, you're also a little concerned about how your child will fare and how you'll manage the cost. Here are some tips on how to help make your child's experience a happy, healthy, successful one as a first generation college student.

Resources for College

The first thing to get in order is financing. Once this is in place, you'll feel less stressed and can focus on dealing with the big life change that's coming.

Your child may have considered several programs before choosing to study for a two-year degree in Ohio. The great thing about two-year associate degrees and certificate programs is that they prepare students for careers in a shorter time than more traditional four-year programs, which helps to lower the overall cost of higher education.

Federal and state governments offer many programs to help pay college costs, and you can supplement this aid with savings, scholarships and student employment. The first step is to fill out the FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form to apply for federal loans, grants and work study funds.

Most colleges, including Hocking College in Ohio, help students apply for and secure financial aid. Visit the college's financial aid site to learn about the various forms of aid, such as grants and loans, and connect with your child's financial aid representative.

Preparing Yourself and Your Child for College

There's no doubt that sending your first child to college is a major life event for both of you. Hopefully, you've been actively preparing your teen, and yourself, for the changes to come. Check these reminders and tips to make sure you're on the right track.

Life Skills

Make sure your child has basic life skills. Can your teen handle money, schedule time, do laundry, choose healthy food?

Independence

Slowly introduce more and more independence and time away from you into your child's life. This can start at a young age with things like summer camp, but even just letting children be accountable for their own money and free time teaches self-reliance. As you loosen the reins, also check your desire to quiz your child on every activity. If children want to talk, they will. They have a right to privacy, and you must adjust to having less influence in their lives.

Along the same lines, encourage your teen's attempts to stand up for himself, make decisions and learn to live with the consequences. Parents naturally want to cushion every blow, but children need to know how to face challenges on their own.

Communication

Talk about anything and everything. Your teen is going to face all kinds of hurdles and distractions at college, and you want him to be prepared and to know where to turn for help if he needs it. Talk about sex, drugs, alcohol and how to stay safe. Talk about exam anxiety, how to handle a troublesome roommate, where to go for help, anything he has questions about.

first generation college studentCheck that the college has resources such as academic and residential life advisors, tutoring centers, student life offices, and mental health professionals where students can turn when the going gets tough. Remember, your child is a young adult now and won't want to involve you in every little aspect of life. It's hard, but you have to learn not to pry.

Your role as a parent now is to help your child leave home and begin life as a young adult. You will likely experience feelings of loss as your close daily contact with your teen diminishes, but you will also get to revel in your child's successes and happiness as he makes his way into the world of adulthood.

Time Management

A skill that is critical to your child's success in college is time management. Being on their own for the very first time can be very distracting. From making it to class on time to spending four hours studying in the library, your child must know how to prioritize.

Hocking College