Buckle Up! Tips for Moms with Children Heading to College


Buckle up moms, the first day of school is around the corner! Whether it’s pre-k, kinder, middle school, or high school, starting school is a big milestone for our kids. Now, when it comes more specifically to college, that milestone is one-of-a-kind!

As a first-generation student, I remember my mom being so nervous about everything that involved the words “university” and “college.” Especially as a single mother who didn’t complete college and who speaks hardly any English, understanding that her daughter was going to college was a lot to digest.

» » » » » » »  RELATED READ: Navigating the Highs and Lows of Parenting Teens  « « « « « « «

FAFSA? Scholarships? Out of state or in state? Admissions letter? Orientation? So many questions and not sure where to go.

In my experience, I was able to get through all of those processes myself by just asking around, trying to do some research, and a prayer! My journey is what led me to my passion to work in higher education ever since my freshman year as a work-study student. Fifteen years into working at UTEP, I can tell you that times don’t change. This new journey in our children’s lives is extremely meaningful and eye-opening.

Moms, enjoy this exciting new journey and be open-minded. A lot of changes are about to begin. Your baby will no longer be a little one in front of others. Based on my experience working in higher education, I want to offer some useful tips for your preparation as the parent of a new college student.

FERPA = Mom Can’t Do Anything

FERPA is the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Most of us have heard of this act which protects the privacy of student education records. So if you try to call the school to know about the admissions status, tuition balance, or grades, the school will have to turn you away. Please try to be patient and understand that it is not that the school doesn’t want to provide you with good customer service; rather, it means that they are just not allowed to disclose anything. If your son/daughter is comfortable with you having access to all those records, have them contact the school’s records office to ask for a FERPA form allowing the student to have a designee on file for levels and items they authorize. Once that form is on file, the school will be able to provide more information as they are allowed.

Positive Participation

New student orientation is amazing! These events allow the students to get to know more about the university and the community and explore all the options and services offered to them. Encourage your student to go to orientation, and also see if there is a portion of the orientation for family exploration. You would be surprised how many schools still have parent associations at the postsecondary level.

Organization and Planning

Find ways for your student to stay organized and plan. Whether it is a digital planner like those found on TikTok, a regular planner, or even notes on the phone. Organization and planning will be key! During the first year and most importantly the first semester, the adjustment is so big that students can feel overwhelmed to keep up with deadlines, free time, student organizations, and much more.

Money Talks and Research

Don’t be afraid about looking into student loans, scholarships, grants, internships, and more. Colleges and universities are expensive. Explore all the options to be prepared for the expense. Read about the types of aid, and explore funding opportunities. Also check with their schools to find out if there are departments that can assist with finances and funding opportunity exploration. Some schools also offer emergency funding, so looking at the economic aspect is key. Your child is being independent and part of that involves knowing the actual cost and value of getting an education.

School Spirit

Push that school spirit to its best. Whether it’s by wearing a t-shirt or going to a basketball game or the traditional bumper stickers, ROCK IT, MOM! Be proud to show where your student is attending college. Live and enjoy that school spirit with them. Even though they are older, they will still love it. It will be a confidence booster knowing you are proud of their selection and with them for the ride of their lives.

Unconditional Support

The most important tip is to give them your unconditional support 100%. College is a big transition, from adjusting to the way classes are scheduled, to the inevitable independence, to the added pressure of meeting GPA, grades, and courses. Issues and fears will arise, and your student may feel all of a sudden unsure about their major, or their school, or having issues with the campus. Just communicate, be open-minded, help them explore the resources that are available for them at the school, and remind them they are not alone. No matter what decision they make, or if they want to change their major three times, you will be by their side.

I hope you and your child have a positive and wonderful transition into college life!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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Ana L. Diaz
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ana Diaz was raised by her mother and her grandmother between Ciudad Juarez and El Paso, TX. She became the first generation graduate in her family. Today, Ana is a devoted mother of three wonderful children: a 12-year-old son, a 4-year-old daughter, and a 2-year-old daughter. Balancing the responsibilities of parenthood with her career and community involvement, Ana exemplifies unwavering dedication and love for her family and community. Professionally, Ana is a valued member of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center of El Paso. In addition to her professional endeavors, Ana is actively involved in various aspects of her children's lives. She serves as an engaged member of the PTA, supporting educational initiatives and fostering a sense of community within her children's school. As an orchestra and football mom, Ana dedicates her time and energy to enriching her children's extracurricular experiences, nurturing their talents, and cheering them on with unwavering enthusiasm.


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