Yesterday we took the day off from homeschool. I left our home at 8:30 a.m. and arrived home at 8:00 p.m. I spent the entire day with my oldest precious daughter. It was exciting, physically exhausting, enjoyable, emotionally draining, sweet, financially stressful, spiritually uplifting. The day was filled with a myriad of emotions. It was one of the longest, yet one of the shortest days of my life. It was the day my sweet daughter moved into her college dorm.
It was a difficult day in so many ways. I didn’t leave without shedding tears, but I did leave without fear. I’ve known for a long time that she is not my child, but is God’s. Over eighteen years ago, He blessed me with the honor and privilege of raising her for Him. My husband and I dedicated her back to the Lord when she was just an infant. Each and every day of her life she has been learning how to be the best Christian she can be, and we have been learning to gradually let her go. Yesterday was another step toward giving her back to the Lord. She will learn and grow even more as He molds and shapes her into the person He wants her to be. She will love and serve Him all of the days of her life.
I don’t really know of anything that could have made this transition any easier. It’s a bittersweet moment in life. However, I have some tips for college parents that may help you along the way.
- Start saving for college tuition when your children are small.
- Encourage your children to earn high school credits while in middle school, taking honors classes to raise their GPA, making good grades to earn merit scholarships.
- Seize opportunities to take college courses in high school and testing to CLEP out of college classes so your student can receive the credit without the cost.
- Don’t choose a school based on their sports program. Choose one that will be the best school for your child’s spiritual development. Dwelling on costs of the school or potential for scholarships, or even how much money your student may make as an adult if they attend a certain school, those are the wrong reasons for choosing a school. Don’t sacrifice their relationship with God for money. If you seek God first, He will take care of everything else.
- Apply for every scholarship you possibly can. I’ve heard it said that there are a multitude of scholarships that go unused every year because people don’t take advantage of them. I don’t believe that is necessarily true. There are many scholarships offered, but I’ve found many of them have specific criteria. There are scholarships awarded if you attend a specific college or university, if you have specific disadvantages. Our daughter did not fall into any of those categories. However, she did receive several state merit scholarships and one from the Bible college she is attending. I would suggest grabbing a copy of The Ultimate Scholarship Book 2016: Billions of Dollars in Scholarships, Grants and Prizes. This resource lists scholarships available by field, circumstance, etc. and it is updated each year.
- Many colleges have donors who will offer scholarship money to students during their sophomore to senior years, so try not to become overwhelmed by the cost of the freshman year.
- If your child will be living in the dorm, shop at your own home for items they may need. We found we had many extras around our home that weren’t being used.
- For items you must buy, begin shopping early in the off seasons when items will be on sale or clearance.
- Utilize dorm space by lofting beds and putting desks underneath, or by raising beds just high enough to put storage boxes or small drawer sets underneath the bed.
- Dorm rooms are tiny and may not afford much storage space. Utilize space savers like these: 6 Pocket Bedside Storage Caddy, Dry Erase Calendar, Laundry Bag with Divider and Pocket, Quick Dry Shower Tote
- Don’t just call the college with questions. You may not get the information you need from the right person. Visit and attend orientations. My daughter is intolerant to gluten, so we needed to be sure she was going to be able to stay healthy and avoid her allergen while living in the dorm. We originally called and spoke with someone, who didn’t quite understand all of the rules and plans in the dining hall. So, we met with Student Life as well as the Director of the dining hall. They were able to ease our minds with all of the different accommodations they have in place. Don’t be afraid to meet with college staff directly. They are there to serve your student and can ease any concerns you may have.
- Begin an open line of communication with your student before they leave home (if you don’t have one already). You want to be sure you can communicate freely with them once they move in.
- Most of all, remember God is with you and God is with your child. Pray for them on a regular basis. Pray for their roommate, residents of their dorm, their professors, faculty and staff.
I hope you find these tips for college parents helpful. When the day comes, I’m sure you will have a plethora of emotions. I pray these tips will help make your transition smoother and less busy, so you can spend more time concentrating on enjoying special moments with your child.