Sending your kid to college this fall? Tammy, Stacy and Felicia, the FOFs behind the clever online community, Uncool College Parents know how you feel. Last year, the trio, who all have college kids of their own, started their website as a place for parents to gather and swap information and advice. Here, they school us on financing a college education, speaking to your coed-to-be about drinking and campus safety, and quelling your own pre-empty-nest jitters.
What is Uncool College Parents?
An online community for parents sending their kids to college. We seek to provide information and a place for parents to come together over this [common] experience.
Why is it important to have a community like this?
When you have a child going through elementary school and high school you have a community [the parents of your children’s friends] that you can talk with. When your kids go to college, you may not be sure where to go. You might go to the web, but we felt there wasn’t a place that was from real parents. So, we created one.
Tell me a little about yourselves.
The three of us are all busy wives, mothers and professionals.
Are all your children in college?
Tammy: My oldest daughter is going to be a freshman this fall and I have a younger daughter.
Stacy: I have two children, both in college. One of my children transferred so I have that issue under my belt.
Felicia: I have one son that graduated from college who went to a school in a major city. I have another son who is attending a college in a rural area.
Do college websites have communities for parents to communicate?
Many colleges have parent websites. They are important sources of information. They give the official message to parents. We’re giving the unofficial message to parents–the way things really are.
What are some examples of topics you’ve written about?
Everything from ‘how do you help your kids decorate their dorm room,” to the more serious issue like drinking on campus. We cover it all.
What’s been the most popular topic you’ve blogged about?
Finance. People are wondering, is college worth it? Are their children choosing majors where there will be jobs? We wrote a blog on how to keep college costs down with suggestions including keeping your child under your health insurance and enrolling in the least expensive food plan.
Should you give your kids spending money?
Each family has to figure that out on their own. Some can afford to, some can’t. One idea is to give your children a bi-weekly allowance instead of monthly–the same way people get salaries. This way, you are teaching them a life lesson. We also wrote a blog post, about this.
What are some other websites you recommend that are great resources for parents and their kids going to colleges?
Felicia wrote a great post about textbooks and included sites where you can buy them for less than the college bookstore such as Chegg.com and Half.com. We also wrote a post about RateMyProfessor.com, a site where students review professors.
How do you talk to your kids about important issues, like campus security, without sounding preachy?
When my daughter was going to college, I told her to call me when she was walking to class alone. In some ways, it felt like I was walking her to class. It’s hard, sometimes you get that eye roll from your child, but, even if you don’t think that they hear you, they hear you.
Should your child join a fraternity or sorority?
Greek life is more important or less important depending on the college. It also depends if your child is interested in that and if they can get into the house they want to. Hopefully your kid is going to make the decision that is right for them, and if they allow you into the process you can help them make the decision.
What if your child has an awful roommate? Is it appropriate to call the school?
Your first action should be to let your child deal–that’s part of them learning how to advocate for themselves. Learning how to live with a stranger and to compromise are good life skills. If safety and security is an issue that’s a different story, then it might be time to get involved.
If your child gets sick at school should you go?
It depends. If your kid has the sniffles, that might be a time to say ‘you can handle this.’ There are some more pressing health issues that even an adult would like a little back up, and certainly a college kid could not be expected to handle on their own. A parent might absolutely want to jump in.
Is it normal to feel sad or depressed when your child leaves for college the first year? What about every year after that?
Certainly, the first time is the hardest. Every time you disconnect after that, it gets a little bit easier. As a parent, when you see your child really taking care of things on their own, that’s when you feel you’re doing something right. Try not to look as it as a loss, but instead, an opportunity to do things you love again.