Spring on the York College campus

Back to List

Parents and College Students: Building a Partnership that Works for Everyone

December 09, 2021
An illustration shows a mother resting her hands supportively on her teenager's shoulders as they work on a computer at their desk

Starting college means taking on new challenges that you’ve prepared your entire life for. This is your opportunity to become more independent, set your goals, and start building your future. However, taking on this new-found independence does not mean leaving your parents behind as you move into the next phase of your life. After all, your parents are still your parents whether you’re attending school across the country or seeing them every morning before leaving for class. Take this opportunity to build on your relationship with them. Be a team and work together to achieve your goals. But in order to let them help you, you have to talk with them about what your goals are first! Here are some tips about how to have that conversation and how to stay connected to your parents while still maintaining that independence that comes with heading off to college.

Tip #1: Have an open discussion about your goals

Be honest. Remember, your education is an investment in you and your future. Sometimes talking with your parents about your future can be a tough conversation, especially when the future you imagine for yourself doesn’t match the future they’ve envisioned. Maybe your entire life your parents dreamed of you going to school to become a doctor, but your dream has always been teaching. Now is the time to have that open discussion with your parents. While it’s important to take their insights and advice into consideration, your education is your decision. Be transparent. Ultimately, your parents just want you to be happy. 

Tip #2: Talk about what you expect to get from your education

Now that your parents know what your future goals are, you can begin talking about what you’re expecting to get out of your education. Of course, you want your college of choice to have your anticipated major. But what else? Remember that checklist we made in Choosing the Right College – In 5 Simple Steps? It’s time to break that list out and share it. Two (or three) heads are better than one when it comes to college searching. If your parents didn’t go to college, this is your opportunity to learn and navigate those waters together. If your parents went to college, they will be able to help you explore your options and use their own experience to help. Of course, the college search process has changed since they went to school, but the fundamentals are still there. By being open about what you’re expecting to gain from your education, you can work together to narrow down your options. Your parents may even have some great ideas that you didn’t even think of while making your list!

Tip #3: Stay in touch

Just think, you’ve most likely seen or talked to your parents every day over the last 18 (or so) years, so it might be hard for them to just let go. Or maybe it’ll be hard for you to let go! Either way, it’s possible to stay in touch while still maintaining the independence that comes with attending college. Whether you’re living at home or staying on campus, your parents are invested in you and want to hear all about your successes and your struggles. Let them be that ear you need when you’re having a tough day, and let them be that first call you make after you ace that big midterm. Your parents are your biggest cheerleaders in life. No matter how you reach out, you won’t regret keeping them in the loop.

Tip #4: Say thank you

This one goes without saying. Think back to all the times your parents sacrificed to get you to where you are today. Whether they made sure you were on time to every practice or sat with you for hours to help with your homework, they were with you every step of the way. We’re sure you haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but that’s what has helped you grow. Those two little words will go a long way. Say them often.

Now, go have that starter conversation. Trust us, you’ll feel better knowing you have your team behind you through this process. Be sure to also schedule some campus visits for you and your family. They’d love to take a walk around the place you might be spending the next few years of your life. We’d love to host you and your family on campus or virtually during one of our many visit opportunities!