Wednesday, December 9, 2015

An Open Letter to the Parents of College Students

First, hello! And, congratulations on raising a human being who is attending college or pursing some further education to better themselves. Up to this point, you've been right by their side, and you've had a pretty good idea of what their day-to-day life looks like. You may have even attended the same high school they did and been taught by the same teachers; that's awesome. But, here's the thing. That has all changed.

Now, before you say, "oh, you're a student, not a parent,"or "you don't have enough life experience" or whatever and that I shouldn't have an opinion on your relationship with your child and how you interact during this time, realize that I live and breathe the college life every single day, and I see how different parenting styles affect my peers. Take a deep breath, and give me a few minutes of your time.

So, with open minds, and hearts full of love for your children, here we go.

College is the time for mistakes. That's it; I've put it out there. College is when you try things, take risks, and , *gasp*, FAIL! Guess what! That's ok!! I know; the idea of your baby failing is heartbreaking. But, I'm here to tell you as a millennial with a lot of drive, I haven't failed enough. Even with the most supportive parents I could ask for, I haven't gone and EXPERIENCED enough. My biggest lessons in life have come from FAILURES and struggles. However, the key was to FAIL FORWARD and struggle on as I like to put it.

Now, I'm not here to toot my own horn  by any means, but look, I'm here typing away to you, attending school, running a small business, and being active in a few organizations on campus. Do I get stressed? You better believe it. Do I ever cry and break down? Yep. Do my parents ever wonder if I'm doing TOO much or pushing myself TOO hard? Sure. However, they realize that this is the time for me to stretch, to find my limits, find my strengths and weaknesses, and find myself.

Therefore, I am always trying new things. That club wasn't so great last year? Cool; I'll try this activity this semester instead. I have a pretty heavy class load, but this internship opportunity is great. I'll take it!

This process has taught me so much about myself. Had my parents said, "No, you can't start that business, or join that club, or whatever because you need to focus on school or have too much on your plate," I would have missed out on SO MUCH. I would have never found my limits. I would have never learned so many invaluable skills that I've gained outside the classroom such as software usage that I can use in my future career. And, maybe most importantly, I would have a fraction of the network I now have. As I'm sure you're aware, connections are key, but guess what, classrooms are not typically where you get those. Those valuable connections are found in internships, clubs, organization, travel experiences, and elevator speeches.

Trust me on this. Class is NOT the MOST important part of college. Yes, it is important and grades help with scholarships, but they're not the ONLY reason why we are here.

So, here is what I'm asking: GET OUT OF YOUR STUDENT'S WAY. Seriously people, please. NEVER tell them they CAN'T try or do something. I mean it; NEVER! That's not your job, not anymore. This is when you support, encourage, and hold your hands out to spot them in case they fall. Please, be that parent. Don't hover, and don't discourage. Don't say can't.

Advise, but don't say no. Please for your student's sake, let them grow. :)

Turns out, those internships I took for credit also are factored into my GPA. So, even without "perfect" grades, my GPA is still just as sweet as the experiences and connections I got this semester :) 

 Moral of the story, always let your kids try. :)