College doesn’t mark end of parenting

The March 3 column by Michelle Singletary, “College-bound teen needs Economics 101,” should have been on the front page rather than buried in the business section where it usually is.

The content details the critical importance of what comes next when your high school grad chucks the cap and gown and proceeds onward to an exciting new adventure.

Exceptions? Of course, but too too many parents don’t oversee their child’s first step into the real world with much more than committing the needed dollars and being certain that there’s a roof over their head when they show up for class on day one. All important, of course, parents must know that this very moment is the mother of all reality checks and you only have one shot at it. Your grad, who may have left school with five-star grades and a wall of awards to show for it all, now has to come to the reckoning that this is starting all over, so it better be done first time right. This is the time of the year when fine tuning your kids next step is most critical.

Many kids at that age more often than not look at this initially as an extended summer vacation at a fun school with some obligations to fulfill. Moving out of the house and being on their own is usually the first priority even though much time has no doubt been spent researching all the various college and university opportunities and what it takes to get there. Social activities at the final destination is frequently at the top part of the list. Are their friends going there, or as was mentioned in this article, will the boyfriend or girlfriend be there with them? The latter can be an especially bad priority.

College-bound students are simply fun to watch and invigorating to those of us that may often have doubts in our next generation of leaders and do’ers. Parents need to participate, monitor and sometimes block a decision that they know is going to lead to problems and often ends as a college dropout or restarting at another school. Its not uncommon.

I’ve always believed that a one- or two-year stint in one of our local community colleges is a great start and we have some outstanding ones to choose from. The tuition fees certainly won’t blow up your credit card the way the big schools can for sure and can be a small investment with larger dividends paid out later on. It gets high school out of their system and resets the social status to a new level. An easier transition and better focus to the real world for those students that are ready for college but not ready now.

College can lead to stellar success stories or a sorry disaster if the parents simply sit back and watch. Sure, your kid is all grown up and on their own but they’re not and any parent knows that, or should.

A well-known comedian once said long ago that “Mankind creates the only offspring that, when they leave the nest, two years later they come back.”

Rex Jennings is a resident of Snohomish.

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