1. WEIGH THE POTENTIAL RISKS TO YOUR CHILD’S FAITH ALONGSIDE THE FINANCIAL COSTS. There is too much at stake in your child’s spiritual life to settle for less than the best place for him or her. Christian students need to grow spirituality as well as academically.
2. SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE RELIGIOUS SERVICE/CHURCH ATTENDANCE. Remember that this is the most important sign that a student’s religious commitment is maturing. Find a way, beyond demanding to see each week’s church bulletin that will encourage attendance and involvement. While considering colleges, perhaps make church visits a part of your time. Help connect your student to a local fellowship of believers.
3. SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGE INVOLVEMENT IN CAMPUS MINISTRIES. This is the best way to get your child involved with peers who will support the quest for spiritual growth in the college years. Many marriages result from relationships formed in college. Especially if your child is not attending a Christian college, involvement in a campus ministry may be the best way for your child to find an ideal son or daughter-in-law. So, if for no other reason, encourage involvement for the sake of your future grand-kids!
4. STAY INVOLVED WITH YOUR COLLEGE KIDS. To the extent possible, stay in touch with your college son or daughter in meaningful ways. Visit the college prior to your child’s enrollment and during the college years. You will want to avoid becoming what Tom Wolfe, in his recent book I Am Charlotte Simmons, has described as a “helicopter parent,” one who hovers over every aspect of the student’s life—not a good plan. But you must stay involved, connected, and informed. So visit as often as reasonable. Make sure you meet your child’s friends; perhaps invite them to your home on breaks and vacations.
5. DON’T GET SNOWED BY RHETORIC OR EXCUSES. Parents usually know when a child is “snowing” them. Do what you must to find the truth and then confront in love. Although this is a time of transition to full self-control and autonomy, there still must be clear accountability to the parents for many parts of life. Your child should understand your parental accountability principles before leaving for college so that when these principles are applied, they are not surprised. To put it most simply, you must be in a position to demand results, if necessary.
6. KEEP PRAYING—NO MATTER WHERE THEY ATTEND. No place is perfect. No parent can ever relax. By keeping involved and connected, you can do much to help your student get the most out of their college years. You have a tremendous role in helping your child become the adult God has designed him or her to be.