This post: 10 Great Ways to Stay in Touch with Your College Kid
Written by: Marybeth Bock
It’s hard enough dropping your child off at college and spending the entire drive (or flight) home feeling as though a piece of you was just left behind. But what makes it even harder is the constant wondering (and worrying) that your college kid is doing okay, that they’re adjusting, finding friends and settling into college life.
If you’re like a lot of parents, your college kid doesn’t stay in touch nearly as often as you’d like. After all, most college kids hit the pavement running the second they step on campus. Between learning the ropes, making new friends, adjusting to their new class schedule, studying, finding their way around campus and learning how not to shrink all their clothes when they do laundry, they have A LOT on their minds. And, they may not have time to check in every day or respond to texts.
But don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to keep your connection strong without being too overbearing. Here are 10 ways to stay in touch with your college kid.
10 Great Ways to Stay in Touch with Your College Kid
#1 Schedule a Weekly Chat or FaceTime Session
If you’re anything like me, it’s awfully hard to go days on end without hearing your child’s voice. A clever remedy I found that works like a charm is to schedule a short FaceTime session or phone call with your college kid every week. Let them decide the day, time and length of the chat so they feel in control (that’s the key). Even if you get a quick 5-minute chat or get to see their face for a few minutes, it can be all the reassurance you need that your baby is doing fine.
#2 Set Up a Family Group Text
An easy and fun way to keep the whole family connected is to set up a family group text. Toss all seriousness aside and send lighthearted and funny memes, jokes, videos or pictures. It’s a also great way to keep younger and older siblings involved in each other’s lives and (hopefully) help the younger ones from missing their older brother/sister who’s away at college.
#3 Use Snapchat for a Glimpse into Their Lives
When it comes to ways to stay in touch with your college kid, Snapchat was the big winner for me when it came to providing “proof of life” when my son went to college. He was notorious for not responding to our calls or texts, or he would text back, “I’ll call you when I leave class/the gym/the library” and then, of course, he wouldn’t call back or text for days.
But whenever I would send a Snap of our sweet dog (whom he adores), he would quickly text back a message or a selfie that let me know all was alive and well. (All this mama really needed to know!) If you’re not already on Snapchat, (trust me, it’s not too intimidating to figure out), download the app and “friend” your college student.
#4 Take Advantage of Parents/Family Weekend
If you’re like a lot of first-time college parents, the minute you drop your college kid off, you start counting down the days until you can see and hug your child again during parents’ weekend. For me, it felt like an eternity!
Of course, there might be times when attending parents’ weekend just isn’t feasible. (Sometimes, distance, finances or life’s obligations get in the way.) However, if it is feasible, try your best to attend. Most colleges and universities have the weekend chock full of activities so you can get a taste of what college life is like for your student and meet their friends. Seeing your child happy, involved, making friends and eager to show you their “new home” on campus is worth every bit of effort to attend!
#5 Send a Little Love From Home
If you happened to miss this trend on social media, college care package parties have become a THING. Groups of moms gather together, each one contributing a different care package item that are all combined and made into a package to send off to each student. It’s a fun way to get together and celebrate/commiserate with other parents who are in the same boat.
Whether you want to create your own care package or coordinate a fun “care package event” with a group of friends, you’ll find lots of fun ideas and themes on Pinterest. I promise you this… every college kid loves getting a special care package from home, especially on holidays or your college kid’s birthday when you can’t be together.
For adorable fall-inspired care package ideas, check out THIS POST! Or, CLICK HERE for fun year-round care package ideas!
#6 Send Funny Gifs, TikTok Videos or Instagram Reels
Another fun way to ramp up communication with your college student is to “meet them where they’re at.” Chances are your college kid has certain topics, hobbies or interests that they love to talk about or even shows they’re obsessed with on television. So, jump on board their interests and be interested, too!
Maybe it’s a certain sports team, a Netflix series, a celebrity they follow or a band they love – make it a point to stay up to date on the latest and greatest news so you have plenty to talk about when you chat. Your child will be impressed you’re “in the know” and you’ll love having that extra time to talk… it’s a win-win!
#7 Mail an Occasional Card with a Surprise
If you don’t have the time, money, creativity or patience to put together care packages, or you’ve BTDT (been there, done that), don’t worry… you can still stay connected without putting in all the effort to create a care package.
Instead, send them occasional cards in the mail with a little surprise – for absolutely no reason at all. Check out The Dollar Store for inexpensive “Thinking of You” cards and tuck in a ten-dollar bill for a coffee and nibble, a gift card to a favorite store or restaurant that you know is close by to them, or a printed picture of a great memory for them to put up in their dorm room. Even something small will brighten their day and remind them that you’re thinking of them and that they’re loved.
#8 Join a Parents Facebook Group
At times it can feel like you just keep asking your college student the same old questions when you talk to them: “How are your classes going? Did you do OK on your midterm? What’s new on your dorm floor this week?”
One effortless way to know a lot more about what’s going on at their campus is to join their school’s Parent Facebook page. These Facebook groups are run by school administrators or other experienced parents, and they often have separate pages for each year’s class. You’ll find all kinds of helpful information about campus events and the latest news relating to your student’s experience.
One crucial caveat: Avoid letting that information turn you into a helicopter parent who tries to exert too much influence over what your student does while away at college. Always remember that college is their experience, and they need to be advocating for themself when it comes to any challenges and problems.
#9 Play and Share a Daily Competitive Game
Who else has become slightly addicted to Wordle? Or one of its countless spin-off games like Quordle (with four words) Heardle (with songs), or Global (with countries)?
These games are so entertaining and a super fun way to quickly communicate with your college student on a daily basis when you share your scores, triumphs, and slightly embarrassing failures. There’s a game for everyone’s interests and they are especially enjoyable for the competitive family members among us!
#10 Be Patient
It may take a little time to get into a mutually agreeable groove when it comes to staying in touch with your college student, so try to be patient and give them grace while they’re adjusting to college life. Above all, remember that college can be stressful. So, if you don’t hear from your college kid for a few days or they opted to skip their weekly call, don’t put too much pressure on them, and don’t take it personally.
Lastly, remember that each of us has a unique relationship and communication pattern with our college kids so, don’t compare yourself with other parents. Just give your college kid as much love and support as your can. As long as they know you’re standing on the sidelines cheering them on and willing to listen if or when they hit a rough patch, you’ll be giving them exactly what they need during this exciting (and stressful) transition in their life.
Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.
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