Guest post by Claire Adams, intro and edits by Jeff Campbell
What does it mean to be an empty nester?
Are facing the loss of one or more of your kids due to starting college?
Feeling a little lost since you’ve spent the majority of the past 18 years focused more on their needs than your own?
Empty nest syndrome is a feeling of loneliness or meloncholy that happens with parents as children grow up and leave home.
While you’re far from alone in your empty nest syndrome, there are some challenges ahead. The good news is that all parents before you have likely faced these same challenges and come out on the other side. You can too!
The painful truth about sending a kid to college
While some parents might look forward to the whole empty nest syndrome situation, life has a funny way of reminding them just how wrong they are.
While our kids might be ready for college, they are far from being self-sufficient adults ready to tackle all the problems life will throw at them. Going to college is the beginning of a completely new chapter in their lives.
It’s also one of the few moments where parents are given the opportunity to tell their children some hard truths. Truths that will remain with them not because of what is being said, but rather when it is being said.
Here are some of the most important aspects parents need to wrap their head around when sending their kids off to college.
Crucial financial steps you must take when sending a kid to college
College is by no means a cheap experience.
Tuitions are often quite high. Even if your kid is smart and hard-working enough to get a scholarship, college textbooks are notoriously expensive. Thus aside from the emotional turmoil you may be feeling from the empty nest syndrome, there are also serious financial side affects too. Luckily there are a few sites where you can Rent Textbooks and save big!
These are the main reasons why most Americans start a college fund the moment their kid comes into this world. They know just how large of a financial burden studies can be.
If you feel a little lost trying to understand the Types of College Savings Accounts, I highly recommend you take a moment and review all the basics you need to know. They are broken down into simply concise sections that will have you mastering your college savings plan in no time!
Aside from tuition, there are also the entrance and other paperwork-related fees that you need to keep and mind. These are in addition to travel expenses in case they’re studying in another state or country.
You also need to make sure your kid is eating properly.
Some colleges offer free meals with their scholarships and tuitions. But most of the time it’s up to the kids themselves to take care of their food.
You can either make food at home and send ship them overnight. But you can also simply send them the money during their studies.
Granted, most college kids work jobs to pay off both their tuitions and living expenses. But some disciplines demand rigorous studying and practical work in order to pass with good grades.
The devastating emotional impact from empty nest syndrome
There’s an old saying that there are two distinct moments in the life of a parent: the moment when their kid arrives and the moment they have to leave their home behind.
And no matter how many kids you have, that empty nest syndrome never gets any easier.
It’s important for parents to consider this situation carefully. Think about all the important things you would like to say to your children. Avoid the usual “stay safe and don’t do anything stupid” mantra. Instead focus on real life lessons, tips and strategies.
Some kids will experience their first real love in college. They may also find their first jobs. Others still may get engaged, married or even have children of their own.
Some of those experiences will not be so pleasant. Your kid might not handle the disappointment of a failed exam or a failed semester, lost job or a broken heart.
These are the times when all we can do is quietly and reassuringly offer them our thoughts. Send them our love. Before the actual move to college, prepare a list of all the things they need to bring with them.
We all know how forgetful (and sometimes helpless) our kids can be.
Moving to college is considered to be quite a healthy and normal event.
However, parents are often quite susceptible to the feelings of grief, loneliness and heartbreak. These are just some of the symptoms associated with the “empty nest syndrome”. Unless you know exactly what to look for, they regularly go unrecognized.
Be careful, if these symptoms tend to persist and may even result in depression and overall lack of purpose.
If you happen to experience these symptoms, don’t hesitate to seek professional counseling. You need to help yourself and those around you readjust to your newfound “freedom”.
If you find yourself struggling, take a moment and check out these proven Strategies to Boost Self-esteem. While they aren’t specific to the empty nest syndrome, they can certainly help!
Surviving the technical challenges of getting your kid into college
Studying in the U.S. requires going over all the available colleges based on offered degrees, programs, academic majors, dorm options and campus sizes.
In order to get into a college, every student needs to register for and pass the SAT. One of the best tips you can get regarding U.S. colleges is to have your kid register with the College Board’s Search Service in order to receive mail from different universities looking for that type of students and adequately research the admission requests.
Of course tutoring can help enormously, so in the US, find a local tutor, or from anywhere an online tutor, quickly and easily with Wyzant!
In the U.K. is a little bit trickier. Top-of-the-line universities, such as Cambridge, Oxford and Imperial College London, often have immensely high expectations from their future students and an extensive list of requirements they have to fulfill in order to attend.
Most universities in the U.K. rely on the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service applications, while some have their own online applications.
Studying in Australia requires passing an English test and fulfilling specific academic prerequisites.
The average undergraduate studies require an Australian Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or an international equivalent, with some undergraduate courses having prerequisite subjects.
For example, getting into undergraduate medical studies in Australia can be really difficult without rigorous UMAT tutoring beforehand.
Once they’ve passed their entrance exams, it’s time for you to start preparing both financially and emotionally for your empty nest syndrome.
While your kids will be calling you every time they need to purchase an expensive textbook, whether they actually need it or not, you also need to be prepared for various random phone calls, especially from girls who hate walking through the campus alone.
Just be sure to expect the quick “I have to go now”, which will sometimes be said just when you want to talk with them the most. Give them their freedom, but let them know they can always count on you no matter what.
Claire Adams is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. You can find her online writing and giving tips about lifestyle and development as a regular contributor at highstylife.com.
Want to write for Middle Class Dad too? Check out everything you need to know on my Guest Blog Page.
Have you experienced the empty nest syndrome?
Any tips you have or challenges you faced that we didn’t cover here? Feel free to comment or email!