Should Parents Sit Back and Let Go When Their Student Goes Off to College?

Simply sitting back and letting go given today’s job market for recent college graduates is the equivalent of throwing a child into the deep end as a way of teaching them to swim.  The situation is far too demanding for that.

Besides, as a parent, you can do better.   And that is the point of my latest book, The Path From Backpack to Briefcase: A Parent’s Guide (which is available for free on Amazon Kindle from now through July 5).  I’m willing to bet that most parents want to help but are not quite sure how. 

Later this summer the Michigan State University (MSU) Alumni Association is sponsoring two webinars I will be conducting on this subject.  They will notify alumni association members.  If you are not a member of the MSU Alumni Association and want to be notified, sign up here.  That will subscribe you to my newsletter and notifications.  You can always unsubscribe at any time.

Meanwhile here are five things you can do immediately to become a more effective career counselor to your student:

Five career counseling tips for parents

  1. Start a discussion with them even before the freshman year about what they hope to get out of college and things they can do to make them happen.  Even if they know why they are going to, there is a good chance it will change over the course of four years.   The discussion can help them navigate the ups and downs of picking a major and then changing their mind—perhaps more than once.
  2. Never allow career indecision be used as an excuse for inaction.  Even as students are making career choices, they can simultaneously hone skills that will be useful across a wide spectrum of employment possibilities.  Improving one’s communications, team building and social networking skills are a few examples. 
  3. Identify on-campus resources that can help with the career decision-making and job search processes. A visit to the campus career services center with them is a good place to start.  You can become a more effective counselor in the process.
  4. Find out the kinds of skills employers are looking for in entry-level hires by  talking with career center professionals and taking a look at the position descriptions employers leave for students to prepare for interviews.   Discuss these with your student and the actions they should take to become competitive for these and other jobs.
  5. Get started now—even if your student is already in school or perhaps has graduated.  Generally, the earlier you start, the easier the journey to a successful job search at graduation.  

I think you can see how I would answer the question.  Would you hand an investment firm as much as $250,000, ask no questions and remain uninvolved?   That’s what you would be doing if you just sat back and let go when your student goes off to school. 

You can do better. 

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