This week’s post is written by the hubs, Scott Barber, who is starting a new business. To find out more about what he’s up to or if you know a college student, read on.
This past weekend many of our children with heads held high, triumphantly walked across a stage, shook their principal’s hand, and received their High School diplomas. We cheered, celebrated, smiled and cried. We are both proud and sad. I can’t stop thinking about how fast it happened – not the walk across the stage, but the journey through their first 18 years of life.
I clearly remember thinking when my daughter was born in March of 2000, that I was going to be an old man by the time she graduated High School as a member of the class of 2018. And now it’s 2018, I’m old, and she has her diploma.
In a few short weeks, with the walk across that stage still in their rearview mirrors, our children will begin walking across college campuses. We may be cheering from a distance but they won’t hear us because we will not have been invited to watch. We will have moved from parenting up close to parenting from a distance. It is what is supposed to happen, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
So what is a parent to do? This is round number three for us, which does not make us experts but does mean we have learned a few things to do and some to avoid. I believe the number one thing we can do for our college-aged children is to stop telling them what to do and begin having more two-way conversations. As you do so, I encourage you to intentionally include four key areas in your conversations.
The spiritual – There are many parenting philosophies on how to guide or not guide your children’s spiritual lives. While I have much to say about this, for this post I will simply point out that the next four years will be critical in determining the future direction of your child’s faith. Statistics tell us over 50% of Christian high school students leave their faith while they are in college. Talk to your kids about their spiritual beliefs and provide some guidance and perspective.
The organizational – I recently spoke to a group of seniors and asked how many of them kept any type of calendar. Only 20% of them raised their hands. The reality of being in control of so many non-programmed hours for the first time will demand of our children that they be organized with their time and priorities. There are enough hours in the day to go to class, participate in extra-curricular activities, hang out with friends, go to sporting events, sleep, eat, and study. But it will require some organization. Talk to your children about how they are and could be spending their time.
The academic – Isn’t this the reason we send them to college? Our children have what it takes to succeed but they are being set up to fail. They would not have been accepted into their future school if they couldn’t make the grades. However, many of them lack the study skills, maturity and intentionality to perform at the level they are capable of. Studies show us that over 95% of students who put in 2 hours of study for every 1 hour in class will keep a 3.5 GPA or higher. Encourage your students to pursue this goal.
The relational – It has accurately been said, “Your friends will determine the quality and direction of your life.” The truth of this statement can work for or against our children. During the next four years, they will make friendships that will greatly influence the type of people they become. Many of them will meet their future spouses, business partners and life-long friends. To the degree that your children will allow it, have conversations about the friends they are making and how they are being influenced by these relationships.
While these are four key areas of focus, many of our children will be slow to open up about these private matters. As they enter these early adult years they will ask for advice less often so we must learn to ask good questions and permission to speak into their lives more.
Because of these tremendous challenges, I have begun a business designed to come alongside college freshmen to help them navigate the first year of college successfully. I’d love for you to visit my website, SoarinCollege.com, to learn more. And for being a reader of this blog, I’m offering you $100 off a year of coaching for your child by entering “BLOG100” into the discount code section at checkout.