For Paula Boyer-McNulty and other Gold Star wives, sending a child off to college is an exciting, albeit nerve-wracking time for both the parent and student.  It’s important to establish a line of communication before the big move takes place.  We have created a list of some shared challenges and advice to help in the transition as your child goes off to college.

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Make yourself available to help

The months leading up to high school graduation can be extremely hectic.  You can help relieve the added pressure of finding scholarships and securing financial aid.  Set aside a few minutes every day to send your students links to various scholarship websites.  They may find it annoying now, but in the long run, they’ll thank you.  Our Scholar Resources web page offers information on scholarships and grants available to students who have lost a parent in the line of duty (available here.)

Be sensitive to their time

As your student prepares to leave for college, he or she will likely spend the summer packing and hanging out friends going to different schools.  Give your child the freedom to enjoy time with friends, but also implement a mandatory day of the week dedicated to family.  Make Sunday ’family day,” and make it a priority to create memories for your college student to look back at and smile upon.

Remember to give your child room to fly

Most new college students experience an overwhelming feeling of stress as they struggle to balance school work, sleep and a social life.  Prepare yourself for the inevitable call from your student.  Resist the urge to come to the rescue.  Instead, respond positively, and let them know you and their fallen parent are proud of them.  If your student is worried about having not made many friends, suggest getting involved on campus.  It can be a wonderful way to make connections with other members of the student body.

Expect change

While in college, students are exposed to a variety of viewpoints and ideas, which fosters an environment for change.  Be open to developments in attitude, style, communication and even academic major.  If you feel the changes are detrimental or worrisome, contact the school.  Most colleges have staff members who can help by providing additional resources for parents.  Gold Star wife Paula Boyer-McNulty advises, “I joined a parent’s group to help me since I lived states away, like many parents and families do.  I keep up-to-date on events and receive help from local families close to campus.”

While this time can be difficult, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is here to help.  We are dedicated to identifying and aiding all military students who have lost a parent in the line of duty.  Since inception,  Fallen Patriots has been able to help over 1,000 Gold Star students afford a college education through scholarships and educational counseling.