Living at Home Oct08

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Living at Home

•Living at Home/Going to College•

Going to college isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Some students may attend college far from home, while others may attend a local college – either a community college or a 4-year college that just happens to be close to home.

Whether it is for financial or other reasons, going to college while living at home might just be the perfect scenario for your kid and your family. But with this arrangement comes a unique set of challenges. Here are some:

  • Engaging in College Life: Commuter students have to work a little harder than residential students to feel integrated in the social and extra-curricular scene at college. If they tend to go to class and come straight home, you may need to encourage your student to stay on campus and get involved in clubs and campus events. According to Jillian Kinzie, the associate director of the Center for Postsecondary Research and National Survey of Student Engagement Institute, “The reality is that the less engaged students are, the more likely they are to leave, to drop out or to do poorly in courses.”
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Encourage your student to check out resources on campus for commuter students. Many colleges, recognizing the need to engage more with these students, are setting aside space in student centers and are even forming special clubs, specifically for commuter students.

  • Family Rules and Boundaries: Do the old high school rules and curfews still apply? Who is doing all the cooking, cleaning and laundry? Will your adult child living at home be expected to check in and let you know where they are and when they will be home?

Answers to these questions are the key to establishing a ‘new normal’ way of living for your family. Tackling these issues upfront, as early as possible in the new school year, will help you avoid a lot of conflict later.

Sit down and talk with your student about expectations – yours and theirs. Know that things are changing and there will be needed adjustments all around, not just with new schedules, but also with the new independence and growth that go along with attending college. (See Adjusting to College: It’s a Family Affair.)

College students, however, are capable of being full-fledged members of an adult household. Expecting them to help with household tasks is important for their developing independence, so do not deny them this fabulous opportunity (i.e. stop doing everything for them!). Other expectations, such as part-time work, helping with younger siblings and contributing to household expenses, should also be discussed.

Talk about rules and boundaries. This is a little trickier. If your college student were living on campus, you would not be telling them to clean up their room or dictating when they should be back in their dorm at night. You probably wouldn’t know how much partying they were doing or if they were spending the night in a friend’s room. When kids are living at home, however, you can’t escape knowing. They’re coming and going all the time; out with new friends you’ve never met. Like many parents, you may even have trouble falling asleep when your kids are out at night. (Are you going to wait to hear the key in the lock, just like you did when they were in high school?)

Here are some questions you may want to address:

How do we handle family dinners? Should we expect you home or let you fend for yourself?

Will we expect you to call or text us to let us know when you will be home?

Will we expect to know your whereabouts?

Will you let us know, in advance, if you are bringing friends home?

How will we navigate issues of privacy and intimacy in the house with your girlfriend or boyfriend?

Clearly, this new phase of life is going to require some soul-searching, more trust and a little deep breathing on your part. How can you let go when they haven’t left? Life at home with your college student will unfold and new challenges will present themselves along the way. Try to stay open, to look at life from your kid’s perspective and try to get them to see things from yours.

You know you want to ease up on the rules and regulations. But how much? What can you do to encourage your kid’s independence while maintaining a great relationship with them? These are the tough questions and the truth is… the answers are as individual as families themselves.

Are you a parent of a commuter student? Please help other parents out and share your advice below.

 

Want to know more?

My Mom is My R.A.: 10 Perks of Being a Commuter Student by Jennifer Retter

How to be a college ‘resimuter’ by Valerie Strauss

Living at Home During College: Is It A Good Idea? (Campus Explorer)

 

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