IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Parent Perspective: Enjoy This New Stage of Parenthood With Your Student
By Joyce and Dennis Kinde, Parents Association Board Members
Students sing CU fight song at 2005 New Student Convocation. This year's convocation
will be held Aug. 25th. (Photo/Casey Cass)
Editor's Note: We thought you'd be interested in this article featured in the summer edition of the CU Parents Association newsletter. The Kindes are parents of a CU sophomore.
As you prepare your son or daughter to leave for college our hope is that we can give you some advice to help YOU prepare as well. As parents of one graduate and three current students, ages 19–24, who have attended colleges near and far, we offer some advice. First, the basics:
- Have a family plan for your cell phones. This is your best line of communication with students and their siblings. Include Grandpa and Grandma if you can. A weekly phone call to students is a good level of contact.
- Have an easy way to deposit funds into students' bank accounts. Students should have their own account to pay their own bills and this can also be used as an avenue to becoming an in-state student if necessary. Make sure they know how to access this account online or keep very careful records of their checks and debit card charges—the cost of overdrafts is expensive. Remind your students that money does not grow on trees and there are limits.
- Avoid credit cards if you can.
- Send your students with a copy of their health card and be sure that they know how to use it. Remember that most health insurance companies require that student dependents be full-time students—a minimum of 12 credits per semester.
- Remember that the good student driver GPA is probably still in effect for auto insurance and you will need to send official transcripts to your auto insurance company at least yearly.
- Books and supplies are expensive in Boulder. Expect costs to be $100–200 per class. Know other channels for purchasing books and supplies, e.g., Target has a store on the bus line in Boulder, or items may be purchased online.
- It is best if your students have their own computer. Eighty-nine percent of CU students do. For advice from CU on what type of computer to look for, see CU-Boulder Computer Recommendations 2006-2007.
- Students living on campus do not need a car. Parking is expensive, busses are plentiful, and ticketing in Boulder is aggressive. Bus routes can be located at the University Memorial Center Information Desk. Also, if your student does not have a car, this reduces liability and cost because they will not be the ones driving others around.
- Students eating in the dorms do get tired of it. Suggest that they avoid ordering pizza every night for a number of reasons. Send gift cards for local eateries and they will appreciate the chance to eat out. Send favorite foods if possible.
- Know their address and their dorm room telephone number. If you live some distance away, send mail or packages occasionally. Especially for emergencies, know their roommates' telephone numbers and get to know them.
- There is a wealth of knowledge on the www.colorado.edu Web site. Just search for answers to your questions or call someone in the admissions department—they will direct your call if necessary.
Now, parents, here is the emotional preparation you need to make:
- Know your students' schedule. Knowing how many credits they have and what classes they are enrolled in will give you an idea of their stress level. Know what else can create stress in their life: Is there a girl or boyfriend who can create more stress? How are the roommate or floor mates? Are the academics on par with their expectations? The first semester is very stressful and may require a lighter load of course work.
- Parents are an easy and safe target for stress outbursts—and there will be some.
- The flu generally last only 24 hours and, yes, it is scary to be sick away from home the first time.
- Keep communication proactive: "I don't know" is not an answer to the question "what do you think?" Students need to make their own decisions sooner rather than later. Be patient. Give advice, but don't make any calls for them to professors, roommates, etc., unless they have totally exhausted every effort on their own behalf. It's OK to be a helicopter parent; do not be missile parents. When your students call you to ask what you think, don't just give them the answers; give them the tools. Empower your students.
- Know that at just about six weeks into the semester your students will be homesick. They have come to the realization that school is not summer camp and college life is hard. Listen, but don't automatically send a ticket to come home—most will get through this phase and be back to "normal" within a week or so.
- Instill integrity and independence in your student. Talk to them about parties and drinking, drugs, etc. It is not the responsibility of the university or you to monitor your students' every move—they need to have judgment and the ability to say "no" to situations they are not comfortable with. Help your students understand this. Give them personal knowledge and independence. Check on resources at the CU admissions Web site or call them 303-492-6301 for pamphlets on how to talk to your son or daughter before leaving home.
- Encourage them to be outgoing and friendly. This is not high school. Out of this large group will come their support group away from home. Encourage them to take a wide range of classes and consider study abroad.
- If it appears that your students are depressed and you are worried, you should contact the residence hall life director. You can contact CU Residential Life at or call them at the general housing office number at 303-492-6871.
Enjoy this new stage of parenthood. Remember the saying you may have heard before, "Parents give their children roots to grow and wings to fly"? Parents, it is time to let them fly.