How Parents Can Help Their Children Excel In College

By on October 22, 2020

Having children in college can be an awkward time for many parents. While a large portion of students go to local or state colleges, where parents are an hour or two drive away, there is still a significant amount of students who go to college far from home, either across the state line or all the way across the country. This makes being part of their support network challenging at times.

You want to be supportive, but maybe you are not sure how to help them be their best while avoiding any smothering tendencies. We will look at a few ways parents can help their children excel and keep the big picture in mind.

Learn To Let Go

One of the biggest challenges in supporting your child in college is learning how to help them support themselves. One of the major ways to encourage this is to effectively “pass ownership of the child’s grades” to the child.  During their elementary and high school educational careers, you were largely responsible for making sure that they were absorbing the topics taught in school and the resulting grades. For example, if they needed tutoring you were responsible for arranging and paying for it.

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When they transition to college, they need to assume the primary responsibility for their own learning success. Not only will you not be able to access their grades in cases where FERPA applies, but likely, they are now a legal adult anyway. They are now responsible for identifying any areas where they need additional help.

You definitely want your child to be living up to their potential and getting the best grades they can, but pressuring them about grades and only discussing academic performance can lead to them shutting down and your relationship can suffer as a result. They may be less likely to open up about anything going forward, and may even avoid phone calls or home visits because of the assumption that they’ll be grilled about grades the entire time.


collegeWhile you may feel that if your child does not call often that they don’t care as much and might be growing distant, the truth is, college students often forget much about the world outside their studies at times. Not only are they extremely busy with their normal course load, but if they are a freshman, they may not be used to juggling schoolwork and social expectations. If it’s time for final exams, you may want to simply wait until they are over to try to communicate with your child unless they reach out first, since they likely have a lot on their plate.

Social media is a huge facilitator of communication, so you should certainly connect with your child on their networks of choice. This will make quick communication like chats and comments much easier. Remember, not everything needs to be a conversation, if you happen to see a status about your child having a particularly challenging day, drop a quick comment that you’re there if they need to vent, and that you’re proud of them. Just make sure not to be too overbearing, keep it light, and they will be more comfortable sharing with you overall, even regarding academic performance and challenges.

Encourage Them To Keep Looking Ahead

It can be easy to get caught up in studying and socializing right now, but it’s also important to think about the future. College won’t last forever, and your child should be thinking about what they are going to do in the future. As a freshman, it can feel like graduate school or law school are far off, but they are closer than they seem.

If your child wants to go to law school, encourage them to start preparing for the LSAT. One of the best ways to get ready is through an LSAT prep course. Additionally, they can take some time looking into graduate schools, student internships, and the job market in the city they want to live in after graduation.

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How Parents Can Help Their Children Excel In College