Within my first couple of semesters in college I found that many college students my age or older were not prepared for living on their own. I had heard all these stories from my Dad’s(Jeff Schadt Revive Family) research, but never really realized how prevalent this issue is. There are many skills that I see college students struggle with, but the most important ones are decision making, time management, and money management. College students lacking in these skills tend to have a more difficult time living away from home.
I have seen many college students struggle to make life and school related decisions from dating issues to dealing with class assignments. Most have to turn to their parents or friends to make a decision, but what worries me most is seeing parents tell their 19+ students what to do. This is why students hide what they’re doing from their parents even when far away at college.
Decisions are hard to make for teenagers as the part of the brain that aids with this skill is one of the last things to develop. Often parents are not helping helping guide their kids towards making good intelligent decisions of their own. It is easy for parents to fall into the habit of just telling their kids what to do. My parents didn’t do this, the approach they took was to ask us if what we were doing was a smart idea, then tell us what may go wrong and let us make the decision if we wanted to go through with it. This gave us the opportunity of coming to our own conclusions and allowing us to have a chance to try, fail, and learn from our mistakes. In the long run this created kids who were able to strategize and make responsible decisions in high school and who were ready to live on their own in college and not be distracted by the craziness going on around us.
Time management is one of the main issues I see with a majority of college students on campus. Procrastination is apart of most college students routine. They face decisions to hangout with friends or write that five page paper? Fun normally comes first. It is hard to make the right decision in college if when they were in high school their parents made sure they got their work done every day. Sadly I have found that some parents are still telling their kids in college that they need to do homework or go to bed at a certain time via text messaging. I have seen parents call their students roommates to check up on them or even to try to resolve roommate conflict for their child. I think parents need to ask themselves if this is where they want to end up and if their goal is to raise children or to raise adults. As a result of this I have had friends two and even three years older ask for advice and to help them deal with roommate conflict.
Allowing your kids to choose their own schedule and make time for the important things when they still live at home is vital. Giving them this responsibility while they are still in your house better prepares them for living on their own. Sure they will stay up late and miss a few assignments at first, but failure is one of the best teaching tools. Middle school is ideal for these lessons to be learned because their grades do not count until high school. My parents allowed me to make these mistakes and then asked me how I felt about them and if they were smart choices I really wanted to make. If i was exhausted in the morning they would simply ask me How late did you stay up? and Was that smart to do on a school night? It was these opportunities that taught me how to manage my time and be productive without my parents telling what to do and when.
College students don’t know how to manage their money. I have friends that are absolutely shocked when I tell them my parents have no say in how or when I spend my money. They have access to my account because it is a local bank but never look at it or my spending habits. Not only do other parents tell their kids how to spend money, most don’t have any money for themselves. Many of my college friends don’t have summer jobs, or have never had a full time job in their lives. By the age of eighteen I worked the front desk of a hotel by myself and had worked full time during the summer for a local daycare. It wasn’t until I got a job that I really understood the responsibility of being an adult, that I believe was much needed.
My parents showed me how to manage money before I even had any by putting me in charge of buying my own clothing and shoes from 7th grade through my senior year of high school. They gave me $60 per month to spend on clothing and other items. The first month I spent it all way to fast and didn’t have anything left for the last week. The next I decided to space it out and still didn’t make it through. After I while, I discovered that a lot of what I bought wasn’t necessary. I stopped buying what I wanted and just bought what I needed. Soon my parents realized I had a ton of money left over and it kept building up. Then they were encouraging me to spend money on things I needed because I had become a spendthrift. This program taught me how to use my money wisely along with self control while I’m shopping.
College students can be so much more prepared for living on their own and it all starts with the parents. Your “kids” in college are ADULTS! Let them live as though they are. Allow them to hold the reins of their life and learn from their failure. Grant them with trust and space to help them grow at a younger age to prepare them for their future. If you want to learn more about parenting with influence go to ReviveFamily.com to check out our free webinar and podcasts.