By Judy Razo
Parenting is different when your child is in college. Your child might not live at home so you can't keep track of study habits and you're no longer entitled to receive your student's grades.
So how can you keep those grades in check when your son or daughter doesn’t have to show them to you?
- Trust your child.
Start by acknowledging that your child is now considered an adult, and therefore, you should respect and trust them as one. This will only strengthen your relationship and keep the lines of communication open between you, which in turn will make your child feel comfortable enough to show you their grades, no matter what they look like.
- Establish a protocol for academic struggles.
Before your child starts college, discuss a protocol in case they have trouble with a class or grades begin to slip. Present it as a “just-in-case” plan that both of you hope you won’t have to use.
As a parent you have high expectations for your child. As a son or daughter, your child doesn’t want to hear that you think they're going to fail, so be tactful in your delivery. Acknowledge that going to college is very different than going to high school and this plan will provide wiggle room as your child adjusts.
- Agree to share grades.
Before your student leaves for college, agree on when they should share their grades. This will set expectations and keep your child on track as they remember the agreement to share grades after midterms and at the end of the semester.
The agreement will vary depending on the relationship between you and your child. If you are able to, you could offer to pay tuition in exchange for a strong GPA. You could also incentivize your student by offering to increase the monthly stipend or upgrade their living or lifestyle arrangements each semester contingent on academic progress.
- Walk through their degree plan together.
Lastly, you can take your parent engagement level a step beyond just grades by having your student walk you through their degree plan and sit down at the end of each semester to check off the completed classes. Stay open-minded to your child’s choices and be supportive if they choose to change their major.
Remember to be confident that you raised a well-rounded and prepared child. This is the opportunity to allow all of the things you taught them to kick in; you just have to be patient, open-minded, and give it some time. Your child will apply what you have taught them and learn new techniques that will pay off.