Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back To School - College and University

Their room is packed into boxes in the car, they've bid farewell to their hometown, and are ready to start their post-secondary career in the field that they feel they want to venture into.  Or maybe they're staying at home to attend the closest college/university and do a daily commute.

Regardless of their choice, your child has now become a young adult, and is taking baby steps into the world of college & university.

I can still remember my parents dropping me off at Loyalist College in Belleville - the furthest I was willing to go away, and I was going to be living in residence with 5 other girls I had never met before, and going to this school, where I knew a total of 2 people.  Nervous?  You bet.  Best two years of my school career?  Absolutely.  (In fact, it's where I met my now spouse!)

That first month where your student is learning their way around campus, what studying is REALLY like, how to cook for themselves, how important sleep really is, where they need to concentrate, how to make new friends, and most importantly, how to succeed in school.

But with all of those things, can come stressful times.  Anxiety, depression, stress come very easily to post-secondary students as they are learning the way of the world.  OSAP, student loans, finances, how to control money - it can send an 18 year old spinning out of control.  I saw many students in my college years, spending their OSAP on stereos, televisions and unfortunately, at the bars.  Bullying can also continue into the post-secondary stage, making it feel like it's a never-ending cycle.

Some students find themselves enjoying the party scene of college/uni more than classes, and end up missing classes, sleeping in class, and watching their GPA drop, and drop quickly.

Then come mid-terms & exams.  This is possibly one of the most stressful times for a college/uni student, as quite often, their mark on the exam is worth 50% or more of their final grade.  It is not uncommon to see students at their breaking point during exam time, to see them get sick, depressed, and not eat well, and some even find themselves extremely depressed and end up with suicidal ideations.

How can you as a parent, help your child through their post-secondary school?  

  • Schedule weekly phone calls (or weekly dates if they're at home) to stay connected
  • Teach them how to cook healthy meals
  • Teach them how to do their laundry
  • Show them how to manage their money through a budget, how to pay bills, how to properly use a credit card (consider one with a small credit limit of $500)
  • Explain how to manage their stress (we're here 24/7 for your students to call!)
  • Talk about a healthy lifestyle that doesn't involve substance abuse
  • Go and visit!  They'll be so proud to show you around campus and their classrooms.
  • Listen.  You'll be able to see the emotions your child is dealing with, and listening without judgement will help your student get their feelings under control.
If your student is having problems with the course they are taking, it's not a bad thing.  It can simply mean their passion isn't in that area of focus.  They can work with a school liaison to find the right course for them.

...pat yourself on the back parents, you've gotten your child out of elementary, middle and high school and into their post-secondary education!  (or, into the work world!).  This can also be difficult on you, emotionally, mentally and financially.  Be sure that you have a good support system in your life as well, as you will also be dealing with your own stuff.  

As always, don't forget that we are here, for you and your post-secondary students, for whatever you're dealing with.  We're here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter what, simply by calling 613-238-3311.

Best wishes for this school year, to all of the students out there!

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