We had someone approach us last week and she said she wanted to learn from us. She will be sending her child to college next year and she was sure we had some wisdom that she could use.
My husband and I locked eyes and tried to hold back the giggles. We were honored that she thought so highly of us but….
Our first thought was…wow…if she only knew, she wouldn’t be asking us. But the truth is we did some things right and probably a whole bunch of things wrong and that she might learn something from our experience.
1. I had a principal tell me once that he thought that everyone should go to “Word of Life” for one year before college. This would give the child time to figure out not what they want, but what God wants. I didn’t listen and I probably ended up spending a whole bunch of money on changed majors that didn’t need to happen.
2. Send your kid on a mission trip the summer before college. It is too easy for a college student to become very self centered. The world seems to revolve around them. I believe that if they have a chance to work with children that have nothing, they may take the opportunities they have been given and flourish.
3. Teach your child budgeting skills BEFORE they get to college.
4. We paid for our kids college, but they had to pay for their books and personal stuff. We knew that our kids would become much more protective of their money than they would be with ours. It was true. They bought used books and sold their books. I know that wouldn’t have happened if our money was involved.
5. We got a Southwest Airlines Visa. We paid everything with that …including tuition. That meant that whenever they wanted to come home, we had points to buy a ticket to get them here. Kids need to be often reminded of where they come from, and that there are people that love them and believe in them.
6. When your child goes to college they are adults. This means that the college does not care that you are paying the bills, you do not get a copy of their report card. This is a big mistake! We had a daughter that had stopped going to class and neglected to tell us…we continued paying huge amounts of money because she said her classes were going well!
7. Drill “safety” into your child….your roommate may not remember to lock the door….it’s important it gets locked!
8. When your child starts to date someone, try to meet them early in the relationship. Sometimes it helps your child to remember where they come from and to realize that this may not be a good match.
9. This is when your relationship starts turning into a friendship. Try not to nag.
10. Demand respect! You may now be friends, but you will also always be their parent. One of our daughters told her father that she was now an adult and did not need to listen to him any longer. She then hung up the phone. By the next morning he had flown across many states to knock on her door to retrieve the car that was still in his name. She has later told us that that was one of the best things we could have done, because at the time she had truly convinced herself that she was independent. Even though we were still paying for her apartment …college…phone…etc.
11. Believe in your child! They will have other people…including themselves tell them that they won’t succeed.
12. When you are setting your child up at college, pause. Our instinct is to go out and buy our kids what they need….instead of buying your kid a toaster….give them yours and update. No guilt…you deserve it.
13. Don’t let your child sign a lease with another student…..trust me. This could end up costing you a ton of money. Most leases say that each party is responsible for the whole amount. So if someone wants to run off with the love of their life, the other person is left with owing the whole rent.
14. Try to keep your child out of debt as much as possible….it will affect their choices later in life.
15. Protect your retirement…do not…I repeat…do not give your retirement money to your child. They can get a loan for college…you can’t get one for retirement.