What to Expect: A Course Catalog for Parents
After the little plus sign appeared on the stick oh-so-many years ago, the first thing I did was to go out and buy a pregnancy book. The second was to sign up for childbirth classes. I wanted to know what to expect. As our family grew, so did our quest for parenting knowledge. We took Early Childhood classes when they were toddlers. We attended parent education nights when they hit junior high. But as our oldest daughter started pouring over her first college course catalog, we were left scratching our heads, wondering what to expect as parents of a college student. If I had it my way, we’d have a course catalog for parents sending their first child off to college. Our own university, PARENT U, would teach parents how to prepare for the freshman year. Our course catalog might look something like this…
WELLNESS 101: INTRO TO THE INFIRMARY
Is your student green around the gills? After-hours medical situations do happen. Learn where the nearest urgent care facilities and pharmacies are located BEFORE your student actually needs them. Have a plan for medial care in place so your child won’t rely on the first-year, pre-med kid down the hall for medical advice.
Course Requirements: Health History, Insurance Card, Prescription Card, Credit Card
WELLNESS 102: COMBATTING HOMESICKNESS
This course addresses the natural phenomenon of missing home. We’ll discuss how outside stressors, sensory overload, rigorous academic expectations, and lack of sleep can trigger this condition. This course reminds parents that even the most well-adjusted, happy, confident students can be blind-sided by homesickness.
Participants will learn these best practices for combatting homesickness from afar:
1. Validate your student’s feelings. Be understanding and empathetic.
2. Don’t over-react. Empower them to share their feelings and simply listen.
3. Have an agreement in place that does not allow your child to come home for the first month of school. This allows time for the student to adapt to her new surroundings and to work through homesickness on her own.
4. Send comfort in the form of a care package or letter.
TIME MANAGEMENT 103: INHIBITORS OF STUDENT SUCCESS
We will address the most prominent collegiate time suckers: the internet, social media, Netflix, and gaming. Guest speakers will teach effective strategies and communication techniques to encourage young adults to spend less time on the couch and more time in class. In the co-requisite lab, we will quantify the benefits of adequate, quality sleep in relation to both academic success and mental health.
Course Requirements: Robust communication skills, thick skin and patience.
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCE 104: LAUNDRY
Participants will learn how to teach offspring to distinguish between lights, darks, and DRY CLEAN ONLY. We will explore stain removal techniques, the benefits of bleach for removing “boy funk” and the less-is-more approach to high-efficiency detergent usage. This course is especially useful for parents of frugal kids who think throwing a brand new red sweatshirt, a wool sweater, a white button-down shirt, a pile of miscellaneous t-shirts, 4 pairs of jeans, and 3 weeks worth of underwear in a single load is a thrifty way to wash.
Course Supplies: Detergent, stain remover, fabric softener, and loads of patience.
FAMILY AND CONSUMER SCIENCE 105: CREATIVE COOKING
Ramen…it’s what’s for dinner. Again. Learn to master creative microwave cuisine and the science of boiling water. A guest chef will share budget-saving tips for elevating ramen to a fine dining experience. Just add peas?!? Also covered in this course: the benefits of baking soda for kitchen fires and how to wash your own dishes.
Bring to first class: ramen (any flavor), bowl, spoon, and sense of adventure.
NUTRITION 106: CREATIVE CAFETERIA MANAGEMENT
Frank discussion on the importance of encouraging proper nutrition and how ketchup sandwiches do not constitute a balanced diet (even if ketchup packets are free). We’ll discuss portion distortion (just because they sell a 104 oz. soda does not mean you should buy it!) and strategies to avoid both digestive distress and the Freshman 15. We’ll take a field trip to the cafeteria to see alternatives to pizza, fries and pasta alfredo. We’ll walk parents through the latest cafeteria technology, including the ability to scan a bar code with a cell phone to view the nutritional panel for menu items. Yes, there IS an app for that!
FINANCE 107: BEYOND THE PIGGY BANK
This course proves that money does not grow on trees. We will explore the difference between a debit and credit card and identify who actually pays the bills. A panel of experts will present the less-is-more theory regarding number of credit cards in one’s possession. We will print out amortization charts to illustrate the importance of minimizing debt for students who may someday actually want to be able to purchase a home or vehicle on their own. Small group discussions will focus on emergency fund usage and debate whether downloading the latest Ed Sheeran album constitutes a financial emergency.
Prior to class: review a university financial statement and discuss basic monetary expectations.
RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 108: THE PARENT PORTAL
Information is power for parents and students alike! In this class, you’ll learn to take advantage of resources available to parents by becoming familiar with the parent portal on the university’s website. Click through programs and events, academic information, campus services, and connect with other first-year parents. Tutors available for the technologically-challenged.
Registration: You’ll need your login and password to access the portal.
Prerequisites: Basic technology skills and desire to be aware of what’s happening on campus.
PSYCHOLOGY 109: THE NEW NORMAL
Students aren’t the only ones adjusting to college life. Parents have a learning curve of their own. In this class, we’ll explore the positives and negatives of life after the launch. Are you a bad parent if your child comes home from school over winter break and finds a ROOM FOR RENT sign in her bedroom window? Instead of getting a renter or buying a puppy to fill the void, we’ll discuss strategies to help first-year parents to adjust to living minus-one in the home.
Bring to class: your partner, dancing shoes and a sense of adventure.