How Involved Should You Be in Your Child’s Education after High School?

College is an exciting time for both parent and child. However, it may require an adjustment period where the two of you re-define your boundaries and figure out how to co-exist as adults with separate goals and career paths. If you’re worried about stepping over the line as a parent involved with their child’s college education, here are just a few do’s and don’ts.

Do: Help Them Develop Their Interests

Your child might already have an idea of what kind of major they’d like to pursue, but even if they don’t, you can help them follow their interests with a well-rounded selection of classes. For example, if they’re thinking about a business degree, you can point them in the direction of economics classes and financial workshops that will supplement their main field of study. If they love the night sky, get on the computer with them and crack jokes about the RateMyProfessor scores of astronomy instructors and physics teachers.

Don’t: Choose Their Major for Them

This is where you complete the evolution from “involved parent” to “helicopter parent.” If your child says that they don’t want to be a lawyer, don’t try to enroll them in legal classes and ethics classes “just in case.” You’ll only push them away as it becomes clear that you’re pushing your own agenda rather than helping them create their own. They might even develop a distaste for the subject because of your transparent attempts to force them into it. Give suggestions if your child asks, but otherwise, let them figure out their classes on their own and learn for themselves what they like.

Do: Help Them with Tuition

If you have a college fund that you’ve been diligently saving since your child’s first birthday, dole it out in increments. This will ensure that it really goes towards the current semester’s tuition and textbooks. You can also help them search for scholarships, apply for financial aid and look into work-study programs at their college. Just make sure that your child is the one writing all of the essays and making all of the phone calls. Don’t do it for them. This is a common mistake of college parents that should be avoided.

Don’t: Pay for Everything

They won’t appreciate the monetary value of their education unless they’re paying for at least part of it themselves. A cancelled class is nothing to a student on mom and dad’s dime, but when you put that same cancelled class in front of someone who’s working a minimum-wage job to offset the cost of tuition, their reaction will be much different. “I paid for that class! I’m not getting my money’s worth!”

Do: Set Limits and Boundaries

There’s nothing wrong with withdrawing your financial assistance if your child doesn’t keep up their grades. There’s also nothing wrong with revoking their right to live rent-free in your home if they become an excessive college partier. These are normal, appropriate consequences for problems in the adult world.

Don’t: Try to Control Them from Afar

Don’t be the parent who cuts off their kid because they wanted a doctor and got an artist instead. Your child is their own person, and as long as they’re happy, healthy and committed to their education, there’s no reason to exert your will over them. Not only is it unreasonable, but it’s also potentially damaging to your relationship with your offspring. If they know that you’re going to judge or dismiss all of their choices, they’ll stop sharing their school decisions with you.

Let your child learn on their own, but you don’t have to be completely out of your child’s educational life. Look at Independence University reviews online and help them start the process. A loving parent is involved with their college education but not obsessed with it, and they respect their child’s independence in terms of classes, degrees, dorm rooms and all other aspects of college life.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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