The second semester for the 2021/2022 academic year has commenced. You are a proud parent. I know! Whether this is your first or last child in the university, you have every reason to be proud of how far your family has come.
Your little one of yesterday is a young adult and it is hard to believe that on some days. Though you have to let them experience the world out there on their own, their experiences would be better shaped with your guidance and attention no matter your educational/economic status.
How do we support our young adults whilst they are in school so that they make the most out of their university education? There are some tips:
Be your child’s friend: This period is perfect for strengthening your relationship with your child. Let go off previous disagreements and learn to build a relationship with your child. A lot of the good and bad happen in our tertiary institutions. Often the students are at a loss. They gamble with their lives – they do not know who to trust or which path to take. If you have a good relationship with your child, he/she will seek your advice/opinion directly or not. If you have the contact number of at least one of your child’s friends/ roommates; if you permit them to explain how the system works in their school; what the students do for fun/ consider as fun without being judgmental, these children will seek and prioritize your opinion.
Be open minded: Remember, you are not with them in school. Whether your child is a “non-residential student or not, you are not with them once they are on campus/in the lecture theatre. They are on their own. They will go for drinkups, beach parties, hall week celebrations (sometimes even to other campuses outside their institution’s region). Often parents are left in the dark. Do not be too focused on making money or too strict to the extent that they will feel the need to lie to you or would not even mention it. Try to come across as willing to allow them to enjoy their youth but with caution. Whether you are told of such events or not, try to assure your young adult that you are okay with them having fun but you want them to be safe and careful while at it. Draw their attention to the recent kidnappings and security concerns raised by the government such that they understand that you are not against them but actually care about their safety. You can push your boundaries a little by asking them to send you a message once they are safely back in their rooms after ‘hanging out with their friends’ and please do not go scolding them about how late they stayed out when next you two have an argument.
Financial Support: Ask your young adult to be on the lookout for scholarship opportunity for undergraduates whilst on campus especially if you are having a difficult time with the family’s finances at this time. You can encourage them to find out from the Dean of Students’ Office/SRC office/Pro- VC’s Office/ Financial Aid/ Finance Office, how they can apply or access financial support for their academic or residential facility user fees or both.
Nothing beat having your parents/guardian support your dreams and ambitions. In these days where graduate unemployment keeps soaring globally and particularly in Ghana, encourage your child to develop/monetize their talent. If its demands that you invest some extra money to help them acquire new skills such as makeup, social media classes, sewing, professional certification or taking entrepreneurship class, please do and assist them to establish businesses after school if they desire to.
These days there is a proliferation of free short courses available on Alison, Coursera, Udemy, edX etc. Talk to your young one to consider enrolling in such programs to learn whilst enhancing their CVs before graduation. These short courses range from a variety of disciplines and your young adult should not feel restricted to taking courses in only their fields. They can broaden their horizon by taking courses in different fields they find interesting.
Remember the nature/ style of parenting has changed. Do not be too strict as a parent, be involved to harness the potential of the 21st-century young adult. All the best!