If your child has recently been admitted to grad school, CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Whether med school, law school or some other discipline all together, this is a huge fete and one in which your child will still need a support system. The demands of grad school while being employed can be taxing over time. So if you are unable to provide monetary support, there are many ways to show your child that you will be there for them as they continue their education.
Here are five non-monetary ways to support your child during grad school
1. Allow them to live at home
If possible, consider allowing your graduate student to live at home while completing their studies. Aside from tuition, housing is the next most costly expense. Additionally, they can contribute to the home in other ways. Doing minor repairs, running errands, house sitting while you are out of town to name a few.
2. Allow them to remain on your medical insurance
As of the publishing of this article, children can remain on a parent’s insurance through their 26th year. So, in case they come down with the flu or worse, there’s no need to worry or pay out of pocket for medical or dental care.
3. Send pre-packaged meals
If your child already has housing worked out, consider sending them prepared meals. There are several options to consider here. Some are fully cooked meals that only need to be heated or boxed meals with ingredients and instructions to walk them through the entire recipe themselves (I love the latter option as it teaches a necessary life skill).
4. A listening ear
Even if you’ve been to graduate school yourself and know exactly what they should do, choose to be a listening ear. Only offering advice when asked or allowed. Let’s face it, it’s a different world and much of what grad students face today, wasn’t even invented when some of us attended grad school. Be the soft place for your student to fall. In this phase of their lives, most of us as parents have moved on to coach or advisor. Encourage them to seek out resources available for grad students at their university of study.
5. Help with loan applications and FAFSA forms
It is safe to say that applying for loans and qualifying for grants, may be new ground for your graduate student to cross. This is an area many parents may have gained knowledge and experience during the student’s undergraduate years. Suggesting that it might be overwhelming is an understatement. Offer your availability to assist and then back off. Chances are your grad student is 21 years old, if not older. The days of us taking over and getting it done should belong gone. Your role here is as a support system, encourager and coach. Make yourself available and allow them to accept the offer.
This is the moment where you get to trust in everything you’ve poured into this very capable human being. They have already completed their undergraduate studies and have taken the next step in their adulting journey. If they choose to move back home, refrain from falling into old roles and habits of parent and child. Create a more welcoming atmosphere of mutual respect and understanding. Conversations about expectations and standards should be had sooner as opposed to later.
Lastly, I know this article started with non-monetary support. However, as the parent of an out-of-state law school student, I know how much it means to get a random cash app deposit or receive a gas card in the mail. On a recent visit, we made a trip to the grocery store and I offered to pay for everything. Final exams is another great time to shower them with a surprise. Last semester, I ordered a week’s worth of groceries on Instacart and had them delivered. To say he was thankful is an understatement.
Keep this in mind, no gesture is too small or too large. Most students go to grad school because they want to, not because they have to. As they are giving their all and doing their best, a reminder that the folks at home are still pulling for you, can make it all seem worth it.
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