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Posts Tagged ‘lazyparenting’

Everyone loves a cross-over episode – whether it is when Family Matters and Full House did it, or when it was Grey’s Anatomy and Station 19 or to date myself a bit, Scooby Doo and Batman.

How is that for a lead on this post?

My wife and I were talking with our 19-year-old daughter recently about her experiences last year as a first-year student at StFX University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Out of the conversation came some tips she has for other students and prospective students based on her experiences, and some thoughts for parents as well. My wife has a parenting podcast – Lazy Parenting and she has turned this conversation into her latest episode (Here is the link) and I am sharing these tips here as a part of my blog. Thus is born the first crossover between the Culture of Yes and Lazy Parenting.


So here are 8 tips that Liz has for those heading off to university:

  1. Do a pre-campus tour. Now, doing this has been a little harder during COVID, but especially if you are going away visit the school before you go.  There is no way Liz would have ended up going to StFX if she had not gone for a visit first.  She got to picture herself in the dorms and feel comfortable with the community.  You can do a lot virtually, but nothing really replaces the experience of being there. 
  2.  Look up professors not just courses.  There are lots of stories from students about easy and hard courses or interesting or boring electives.  But simply knowing the courses to take is not enough.  Research the professors.   Different instructors may have completely different approaches.  Just like in high school, where some departments teach everything in a particular course exactly the same and others don’t – the same is true at university
  3. Show up. I know, this one sounds very obvious.  Go to your classes, extra sessions and office hours. You actually have far fewer structured hours of schooling than in high school and these connections you make with professors can be important. 
  4. Make a schedule.   This is one of those items that is far more important than in high school when timelines seemed so regimented.  At university, timelines are spread out and it is easy to look and think you have lots of time but tests and assignments are really condensed at the midpoint and end of terms.  It is crucial to put everything on the calendar at the beginning of the term and then build a plan to space out the work over the entire term so you are not overwhelmed.
  5. Get involved. It is a cliché to say get involved, but it is important that school is more than just school.  For Liz, it is playing varsity basketball, but there are dozens of teams, clubs and other ways to be connected.  Since you spend far less time in class than in high school, these other connections make school “sticky” and help you be connected.  You won’t study all day so you need other things to help keep you mentally and physically healthy.
  6. Look out for you. Be an advocate for yourself. Yes, there are a lot of services available at a university but there are not the usual check-ins from counsellors or administrators as in high school.  And universities are big places.  You need to speak up, for example, if you think your marks were not calculated correctly by your professor.  They are human and can make mistakes and nobody is going to do this advocacy for you.  Don’t find yourself in situations with classes saying, “I will just leave it, this doesn’t matter that much.”
  7. Do adult things. – For many students this shift of taking more responsibility is one of the biggest changes in university.   So embrace it.  The biggest one for Liz was probably owning her finances, and doing budgets, so she could plan for this year and beyond.  But there are also lots of little things, like going to the doctor if you are not feeling well that seem obvious but are new to having to do without the help of your parents.
  8. Pick the people around you carefully.  Surround yourself with others who lift you higher, push you to be better.  Again, the decisions sounds pretty obvious but just like in high school, your friends matter.  Yes, you want to have a good time at university but if you want to be a top student and have a good time, find others who think like you.  
 
Now here are five tips we have for parents as they send their kids off to university:
  1.  Stay in touch.  Facetime is a great invention.  We would have regular family dinners through video calls that let us continue some of our rituals even though we were thousands of miles away.  
  2. Make your kids do their own stuff.  It sometimes feels it would be easier just to register for them or do their course selections so they don’t screw it up – resist the temptation.  It is time for them to sign all the forms that need to be signed and pay their own bills.  Don’t be one of those parents who calls the professor to ask about an assignment for your child.
  3. Embrace your changing role. You are now more of a cheerleader and a guide at the side.  This is great and you can redefine the relationship you have with your child and school.
  4. Be genuinely curious. You might have gone to university – but that was probably 20 or 30 years ago.  Ask questions about how things work and what is going on at university.  
  5. Care about success.  It is important to believe in the process and we should not be driven by grades, but make sure your child knows that grades do still matter and you care how they do.   You can say grades don’t matter, but in the next breath you will say you want your kids to do well at university.  Each family has to come to terms with this catch-22.  Grades are not the only indicator of success, but they are definitely one of them. 

Liz’s experience was great last year.  So good in fact, as she heads into second year she is being joined by her brother who graduated high school in June and will also be in the business program at StFX this fall. 

We will see twelve months from now if all this advice still holds true. 

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