Remember your college days? Football games, late nights studying, parties and fun — the American college experience is unique and, for many, a transformative period.
You get to play at adult responsibilities like showing up and caring for yourself, but with a safety net.
No wonder some folks stay for more than four years!
Increasingly, the college experience is changing. Ask any 22-year-old. They’ll tell you about online classes, crammed lecture halls, commuting and, in many cases, working part-time to get it all done.
Change is good, for the most part. Too often, kids are shielded from the reality of bills, insurance and the cost of just getting around.
The working world can be a shock. Expectations are high and hours are long. We do them no favors by pretending otherwise, yet the pressures of that first job can be liberating, too.
That’s where most of us grow up. Working for that first boss (for better or worse). Navigating workplace relationships. Making real money at last.
Shark Tank star Robert Herjavec had an interesting take on that transition process, which I write about in my latest column for MarketWatch.
Learning to cope
In short, he says, don’t sweat it so much. Your kid needs that work experience as much or more than they need the “right” degree from the “right” college.
“Education is critical, but there’s no reason to go into massive debt for the ‘perfect’ degree, or multiple degrees in the same field,” Herjavec says.
Just as critical, I find, is how your relationship with your almost-adult kids develops during this transition time.
Are they allowed to take risks? To fail? Are they responsible for themselves and learning how to cope with life and finances?
Most importantly, are you still paying for things that you, perhaps, paid for on your own by this age? Cell phone bills, car insurance, rent?
There’s a real price to coddling your kids financially, both to them and to your future, retired self.