The Best-Kept Secret for New College Parents

If you’re here at SummerBeforeCollege, I know you’re all about being on top of things as you help your freshman prepare for college move in day. After all, you’re spending some of your summer surfing (web-surfing that is) poring over checklists and fascinating blogs like this one! I want to give you a heads-up about a great source for college parent support.

One of the most helpful resources I found when I was helping my daughter prepare for her freshman year at the Ohio State University was a Facebook group for OSU parents. Once I gained admittance to the group, I immediately found out these important things:

  • I was not the only parent stressing about how the dorm assignments would work out
  • I was not the only parent wondering where the best twin XL bed topper was available
  • Other college parents had gotten through this and lived to tell the tale

Find your college parent tribe

I am sure there are some colleges that do not have a dedicated Facebook group for new parents, but there are tons out there. Do a quick search and if there is one available for your freshman’s fall destination, join asap! You will appreciate the college parent support.

A few tips:

  • Be prepared to have to provide some basic information to the group’s admin to prove you really are a college parent and not some weirdo
  • Once you become a member, take some time to scroll through and see what kind of information is already there
  • Introduce yourself! I’ve found other parents on the OSU site are awesome.

Bonus: Unlike so many public forum Facebook post and reply streams, I have very rarely seen a nasty reply to questions. This is very refreshing and makes our parent group a pleasure to visit.

Learn from other college parents

You are likely to find that many of the questions asked by other new parents are, no surprise, the same types of questions that you have. You’re also likely to see veteran parents chime in to put you at ease and provide helpful, proven experiences that you can learn from. That is awesome college parent support and soooo helpful.

stressed college parents

But don’t let other parents stress you out

One caution I would offer is not to let yourself get freaked out by some of the posts of other parents. You’ll know when you see them. For example:

“My child was the high school valedictorian with a 4.7 GPA. He’s off this summer to a humanitarian trip but wants to make sure he does some pre-reading for his nuclear engineering courses. Any ideas on a reading list?”

“We just finished everything on the summer before college checklists and purchased everything we needed. Whew! What a load off!”

Take these types of posts for what they are worth, in my case, I skip them. 🙂  

The good news is that there is a TON of awesome info in these parent groups that will help you and your child get ready for the fall.

Helicopter parent or lawnmower parent?

One last tip...another thing we can learn from these groups is that some parents are really doing all of the prep work for their kid and that can be bad news. You’ll see posts about parents calling the university for information that the freshman should be calling for, filling out roommate questionnaires on behalf of their children, and designing their child’s dorm room before they have even stepped on campus.

college lawnmower parent

I get it. We love our kids. We want to make the transition easier for them. It can be tough to stand back when needed.

The phrase helicopter parent has been around for awhile. You know, the parents who hover near their children and take care of every problem as it comes up. Now we are talking about lawnmower parents.

A lawnmower parent takes helicoptering one step further. If we know we can’t be there in person to “hover” and help our kid, we take a preemptive approach. We pave the way for them by identifying potential problems and solving them before our kids get there: in other words, mowing the lawn ahead of them.

True Confession: I just edited this piece. When I I did, I realized I had written “when I was preparing my daughter for college”. Oops. That sounded lawnmower-ish. I changed it to “helping my daughter prepare for college” but that was definitely telling. I’m not saying it’s easy to stay away from these roles, just to try to be aware of them.

Find your Facebook college parent group now

I hope you are able to find a Facebook group that fits your needs. I am still an active member of my group. The questions ramp up the summer before college but there are still plenty of unknowns as you navigate the freshman year and beyond.

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