5 tips to make College decisions

A momentous time in my life at the moment, another milestone, another child out of the schooling system. My sigh of relief is followed by the groans of my bank account.

More decisions.  The youngest son, Owen, has his heart set on securing part time employment over the festive period. The bare bones of a curriculum vitae has been sketched out. Those matric results?  Three more examination papers and crunch time… Would it be a gap year or immediate tertiary admittance? Choices, choices… Whatever the situation, every parent wishes the best for the children and family.

A crucial period of a youngadult’s life.  The school friends fromprimary and secondary school are now moving on, out of collective classes intocareers, which need to be considered quite carefully.  Decisions can no longer be based on socialactivities or remaining with friends at theircolleges.  This entails FOUR years out oflife in addition to the twelve already served (yes, that word is usedintentionally!)  

A college choice is a MAJOR decision, input from parents is necessary.  If like me, you are in the same position, conversations need to include the following :

1. Which career choice?

Depending on the strength of the grades and the type of personality, careful thought and much investigation needs to be expended into scope and earning capabilities would need to be taken into consideration. Most importantly, would your child be happy with a profession which may be a lifetime decision? A list of all the pros and cons is necessary to iron out the kinks ahead.

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2. Distance from home?

Is your child strong enough to leave home and live in a residence.  As part of a work related activity, I had to audit a students residence.  I cringed mentally and was surprised when my colleague nodded her approval, the living conditions were up to standard.  Personally, I thought not.  Admittedly, a recognised institution, the kitchen and certain aspects left a lot to be desired.  Had I been in their shoes, I would have rather studied closer to the comforts of home.  Had I been forced to live in those circumstances, I would not have enjoyed it and can understand why young adults seek coping mechanisms and questionable companionship.

3. Budget?

Budget complications are trying.  “Testing the waters” and “dabbling” in courses could mean other unscheduled expenses. There are SO many expenses to consider, unless of course, the child is being sponsored by way of a scholarship for excellent results. Will a student loan be necessary? What of the interests incurred? The ensuing years could mean mounting debt and worry. An alternative suggestion would be to secure part time employment to supplement student fees.  Would that be manageable whilst studying?

4. Vehicle?

Is a car necessary and is your child adequately skilled in driving?  To offset expenses, would a lift club not be more feasible?

5. Choice of college?

Take their choices into consideration, after all, it will be their home grounds in the years ahead.  Take advice from friends who have been through the process. Remember that hindsight is always expensive.  Discover your sleuthing abilities, go on-line and surf the web for information.  Once a decision has been made, make an appointment, suss out the environment and prepare to support your child. Ultimately, it IS their decision.  When a decision has been made, congratulate them and remember that you are no longer in the driving seat but an advisor and passenger in the years ahead. Trust your child with their decisions without being a helicopter parent.

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Have the applications forcollege gone out? Have the professional goals been identified? Have the inSouth Africa, the Central Applications Office would need to informed. 

Should admission be denied, remember to be kind and refrain from turning an already sensitive situation into a volatile experience. 

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As attached and emotionally bonded to my son as I am, I realise that, I HAVE TO LET GO, let him explore his new worlds.  It’s a transition for parent and child, the empty nest syndrome will take its toll on men you and the separation angst from home for the child will be very real as they have left their comfort zones (as we once did), for major life altering decisions.

Congratulations parents on the journey ahead. With confidence in your child, hope and faith, you are well on your way to raising and supporting the future generation.  The navigational journey ahead will by no means be easy but it will be worth it”.

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