Parent to Parent Advice for Talking to Your Teenager About College During COVID-19

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Graduation caps thrown into the air

Coronavirus has disrupted all aspects of our lives and college plans are no exception. Parents across the country are being forced to have different conversations with their teenagers then they would have had six months ago. We talked to a few parents of college aged students for advice on how they’re talking to their young adults about College During COVID-19. We hope in some small way these perspectives can help as you have conversations with your teenager. These are not experts on parenting, but they are all people with teenagers of the age where they’re considering college decision during this uncertain time.  Information on each of the parents can be found at the end of this article.  
 
What advice would you give to parents struggling to talk with their students about college decisions during COVID-19?  

“At this point with all the uncertainty about the fall semester I have advised my child entering her freshman year to stay local. We don’t know if colleges will have dormitories open and there will be classes conducted on campus in a classroom yet. It doesn’t make sense to send a child away and pay for a dorm room if they’ll have to take all there classes online. This is particularly true for my child who is entering college as a freshman and needs to get the basic core courses out of the way.” - Fran Morabito 

“Talking to your child about college decisions during this time of COVID 19 can be challenging. These are scary and uncertain times. Going to college will be so much different for our upcoming students. Both parent and child need to communicate and listen to each other. Seek out all available educational options. Keep yourself informed to assist in what makes sense for their child’s education. Always keep your child involved. Make sure to address any concerns and fears. Most importantly ensure the safety and wellbeing of your child.” - Betsey Morse  

“The best advice I can give is that it’s ok to be uncomfortable, not know all of the answers, and show vulnerability in these important conversations. So much is changing every day, it is hard to feel like there is any decision that can be made at this time on solid ground with all things known. The reality is, we can’t make decisions based on solid facts right now, but decisions still have to be made and life still needs to move forward. If college is in the very near future for your child, as a parent it’s even more important now to talk to your child about setting themselves up with a solid educational foundation to enter into the world that is changing around us. This doesn’t mean that their path needs to be crystal clear but it does mean that they need a path, now more than ever.” - Erin Vaccaro  

“Tell them that you realize that this is not the college experience that they were expecting. Make sure that they know that nobody wants this. Their professors would rather have them in the classroom too. It is not the perfect situation for any parties involved, but they can succeed at it!” - Carolyn Bice  

How would you help your child deal with the reality of changing circumstances surrounding their education?  

“It’s so important to be supportive and patient with your child during these ever-changing times. The educational foundation as we once knew will never be the same. Children will now need to adapt to these changes. Talk to your child and help them cope with these difficult and scary transitions. Pay attention and really listen to your child. Life is all about changes especially now. Learning how to effectively adapt is crucial. Reinforce positive coping skills and encourage open communication. “ - Betsey Morse  

“I think the most important thing to focus on right now with the reality of changing circumstances surrounding education is all of the college readiness skills my child is practicing and building that she may not even be thinking about. There are so many skills that are essential for college success that she is practicing daily simply because she has to survive and try to thrive in a distance learning environment. She has to learn how to adapt, communicate effectively through writing, manage time efficiently, strategize, problem solve, advocate for herself, and do all of it while managing the emotional impact that the pandemic is having on all of us. Creating an environment where your child can talk to you, vent frustrations, and find solutions is so important. It’s easy to get caught up in the news, the negativity, and the hardships we are all facing. Helping my child learn how to adapt, providing a safe space to talk about the emotional things, and help find solutions to the hard stuff will not only get her through this time right now, but help her build skills for independence and success in the future.” - Erin Vaccaro  

“Try to reassure them they will be in college for the next 2-8 years depending on the child’s goals, so whatever happens in the upcoming year it will be temporary, and things will get back to normal. Just offer support and understanding for the apprehension about the upcoming school year that they have. Do what you can to help them cope with any of the unknown circumstances that may arise.” - Fran Morabito  

“Try to prepare them for the possibility of change. Nobody knows what the future is going to look like.  The semester could start off one way and end another, so tell them to make the most out of whatever college experience they end up having. They will get out of it what they put into it.” - Carolyn Bice  

Do you have any other thoughts or advice you'd like to share for other parents? 

“Your professors really care about the experience you are having in college.  Reach out to them. Connect with them in whatever ways possible.” - Carolyn Bice  

Fran Morabito is the father of a high school senior looking to enroll in her first semester of college for Fall 2020.  

Betsey Morse is the mother of a rising sophomore who prior to COVID-19 was attending school in NYC.  

Carolyn Bice is the mother of a high school sophomore that is also taking some courses at OCC.  

Erin Vaccaro is the mother of a sophomore in high school beginning her college search.