When parents send their 18-year-old off to college, many still want to be involved.
Today’s parents typically participate in the college choice process, pay the tuition, provide a support network including airfare home for weekends, and also have the ability to end the college education if the student is unable to meet the expectations required of them.
This is the reality of post-secondary education where there is a trend to treat college students as older children instead of independent young adults.
It is an extended adolescence that allows parents to play a major role in their children’s education and college experience.
The problem with all of this is that, in the eyes of the college or university, any student over the age of 18 is considered an adult and will be treated accordingly.
This means that even though mom and dad are paying the tuition, they cannot call up the school and demand to know their son or daughter’s grades.
Canadian post-secondary institutions must follow Freedom of Information legislative guidelines and cannot give out this information.
Yet there is a demand by parents to get involved, so post-secondary institutions are now providing families with more opportunities.
Many colleges and universities provide specific information to parents on their web page and some have even gone as far as creating handbooks for parents.
Some may argue that parents have to let their children grow up and learn to be young adults, but many still feel the need to be involved.
I think you need to do a bit of both.
Send your children to college and let them learn to look after themselves and make sure they know what is expected of them, both as a young adult and as a member of a post-secondary community—this is especially important if they are living in residence.
Along with this, parents should make a point of understanding the policies and regulations of the college they are sending their child to.
Usually the institution’s web site is the best place to start.
Although this information isn’t on the homepage, I would suggest that parents search for academic regulations, which can be found in the policy section of the school’s calendar.
These regulations include how students will be graded, what happens if they drop a course late in the term and the consequences if they fail an entire semester.
Parents should understand what happens to their son or daughter if they are placed on academic probation.
Knowing the importance of their GPA is another good piece of information to have.
Most parents and students don’t realize that although you can pass a course with a 55 per cent, most credentials require a graduating grade average of at least 60 per cent to graduate.
Vocational courses often require a minimum of 70 per cent for a pass, and if students fail one course they are usually unable to continue in their program.
Another thing to know is the school’s attendance policy, this is usually very important for programs that require students to complete a number of hours in the classroom and a practicum.
And if you can’t find this one on the web site, I would recommend you call the registrar’s office and find out what happens if a student becomes ill during the term and is unable to complete their courses or program.
As someone who is paying the tuition, it is important to know what options you have.
So my advice to parents is simple: Let your son or daughter grow into becoming young independent adults as they enter college or university, and spend your time researching their school so you understand the expectations their school has of them.
Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.