Sending kids to college: some solid advice

It's that time of year. The Fall semester is looming, and those of you sending your tiny, freshman babies off to their first year of college might be wondering just how to do it.

It's like a band aid, just rip it off.

Kidding. I'm only kidding.

In addition to my own experience of sending two kiddos off to out-of-state college, I've actually taught hundreds of college freshman. Goodness. Many of them arrived well prepared for college life, both academically and practically, and  . . . many of them . . . just didn't. When I taught at Baylor I had a student who explained to me that she had missed my class because she didn't hear her phone when her mom called to WAKE HER UP. I was stunned. This student's mother called her every morning to wake her for class. At that moment I turned to the class and asked, "Just how many of you rely on your parents for a daily wake-up call?" Let's just say, more than five tentative hands started snaking upwards.

And one more anecdote, if you'll indulge me: After failing a girl in my class (she REALLY failed the class, not just kinda-sorta), I got an e-mail from her father demanding that I schedule regular tutorials with this girl over the summer and then change her grade. Wow. Not how college works. At all. Also, had a parent e-mail me to let me know that his daughter would be celebrating her 21st birthday in Las Vegas and would thereby be missing class. But "shhhhh . . . the trip was a surprise." Again. Not how college works. It's helpful to talk to your kiddos about expectations in college, and how they are, in many ways, not at all like the expectations found on a typical high school campus.

My point? Read this article. It's a great essay from a college professor's perspective -- someone who's seen thousands of freshman cross that rocky path from childhood to adulthood. Or, sorta adulthood. I can say amen to every one of her points -- except the one where she tells you not to communicate with your child everyday or every other day or every other other day. I let my kids contact me as often as they wanted, although I did let them dictate the frequency. However, I tried to remain mostly a sounding-board, except for those times I told them exactly what to do. Man, I do miss controlling my children's lives. Those were good times. Sniff.

P.S. Moving your kid in to the dorm? I wrote about dorm living here.

I wrote about taking our first child to college here.