The Pros and Cons of Sending Your Kid Off to College
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- Sending your kid off to college comes with a number of highs and lows.
- It will be exciting to watch your child grow, even as you worry about them.
- Your relationship may improve (though you may still have to do their laundry).
With campuses opening up this fall, many incoming freshman students will get to experience an authentic in-person college experience, something last year's freshman class missed out on due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For many parents, sending a child off to college for the first time can be both exciting and emotional. It's a milestone moment for both parent and child.
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It's also likely the first time your child will have lived on their own away from home. Some parents of first-time college students are happy to see their children leave the nest. It's a chance to watch them mature and gain independence.
Going away to college for the first time can be harder on parents than it is for students.
But for many parents, it raises mixed emotions. You're excited to see your child experience new things, but also sad that you'll be seeing much less of them. Going away to college for the first time can be harder on parents than it is for students.
If you're the parent of a first-time college student, you can use this pro/con list to ease some of your anxiety.
It will take a while for you to get used to the fact that your child is out of the house, but you'll still be in regular communication and be able to take part in their lives. There will undoubtedly be challenges along the way, but you'll be surprised at how much your child grows over the course of their college career.
Pros of Sending Your Child Off to College
- You get tax breaks and benefits. College can be expensive. Thankfully, you may be able to take advantage of multiple tax breaks in the form of tax credits, deductions, and other benefits, like tax-free savings accounts.
- You'll have more time to get things done. You'll be surprised at the amount of extra time you have on your hands once your student is away at college. However, if you still have younger kids at home, you might not notice as much of a difference.
- Your child is gaining independence and enjoying a life-changing experience. Your student will be discovering new interests, meeting lifelong friends, making their own decisions, preparing for their future, and developing into a full-fledged adult.
- You can turn the spare bedroom into whatever you want ... sort of. You may be excited to finally have the space for that sewing room, gym, study, or guest bedroom you always wanted. Just remember, your child may still come home on breaks and over the summer and need a place to sleep!
- Your relationship with your child may improve. In a recent survey of roughly 14,500 college students across the U.S., close to 60% of respondents said their relationship with their parents had improved since they started college.
- You get to root for a new college sports team. Even if you're a fan of another college team, you'll likely build an attachment with the school your student attends. If your student chooses a school with competitive sports, you might find yourself rooting for a new team.
Cons of Sending Your Child Off to College
- Obligatory paperwork and forms. Once your child has gone through the application process and been accepted, you'll be presented with numerous forms from financial services, student services, student housing, and other school offices. Be prepared to spend several hours filling them out.
- Navigating the FAFSA process. If you plan to apply for Federal Student Aid, you will need to complete the online FAFSA, which determines how much federal aid you can receive based on your income. It's not the easiest process to figure out. Note that individual states and colleges often set priority deadlines for FAFSA form submission. There is also a federal deadline each academic year.
- Financial support. College can be a significant expense. In addition to tuition, housing, and meal plans, you also need to think about parking passes, textbooks, passes for sporting events, and other miscellaneous fees and expenses. It all adds up quickly. According to data released by Fidelity, parents on average plan to pay around 62% of their student's total college expenses.
- Worrying about your student. Are they making friends? Are they safe on campus? Are they skipping classes? Are they partying too much? It's natural for parents to worry when their children are away at college. Do your best to avoid stressing about your student. You've prepared them to make their own decisions, and even navigating mistakes will help them grow.
- Backlogs of laundry. Oftentimes, students tend to forget that their dormitory building comes equipped with washing machines and dryers. If your child attends college within a day's drive, you can probably expect them to arrive home with several loads of laundry.
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