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How to Support Your First-Generation College Student

Watching your child become the first member of your family to attend college is an amazing feeling. The joy, hope and pride you feel can be some of the most incredible emotions you feel as a parent. Going to school is a major achievement for them and you after your years of hard work. Parenting doesn’t stop when your child graduate’s high school, though. Being a first-generation college student is a unique experience that deserves acknowledgement and support. You can continue to help your child thrive as they get ready to embark on this exciting next stage of their life. Here are three ways you can show support and encourage your child throughout their studies.

Talk About Finances Together

You’ve likely thought about the cost of college since your child was a newborn. Whether you’ve saved money or are helping them look at financing options, you can be a source of comfort and wisdom for them during this time. Explore scholarship opportunities, financial aid packages and even private loan options. If you want to contribute to their tuition on your own, you may look into applying for a Private Parent Plus loan to help pay for school. These are flexible loans that let you make payments that fit your budget. It’s a great alternative for parents who do not have the ability to put away a lot of money but still want to support their child by paying for part of their education.

Offer Reassurance

Being a first-gen college student can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Because they don’t know what to expect, many students feel like they aren’t able to meet the expectations of their professors or measure up to their peers. They may avoid reaching out for support because they don’t want to be a disappointment. If your child has some doubts, remind them that everyone struggles with self-doubt and worry, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of achieving their dreams. Many undergraduates are the first members of their immediate family to go to school. This means that despite any differences your child may feel between them and other students, they aren’t alone.

Keep an Open Mind About the Future

Celebrate your happiness over your child attending college, but don’t forget there’s plenty of life for them to lead after graduation too. Some students fall into an anxiety trap as they believe college is supposed to be the best years of their life. Older first-time students might feel like they’ve already missed the mark while younger ones are pressured to do everything perfectly and have the best experience rather than embracing the moment. Let your child know that you’re proud of them no matter what, and you’re just as happy to watch them go through college as you are to support them throughout their adult life. It’s also good to remind them that their hopes and dreams for the future are likely to change as they move through their degree program. Encourage them to explore new ideas and try new things. They may just discover their true passion.

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