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Keeping in Touch at College

By Sarah Klein

If this September marks the first time your child is away at college, there are probably lots of worries and concerns swirling around in both of your heads. For her, it's about who she'll meet and how she'll fit in. For you, it's a fear of letting her go off into a world where you're no longer at her side to help and protect her.

This newfound independence takes some getting used to, for parents and children alike. One of the trickiest transitions to navigate is how to stay in touch. Luckily, you have lots of options. Talk with your child about your expectations for communication and come up with a plan, including the methods you'll use and how often you expect to hear from each other.

Phone Calls
Some college kids will call every day unprompted, others have to be begged to call home. But no matter how difficult it is to get them to pick up a phone, there's really no substitute for the joy of hearing her voice. Whether you plan to speak on a daily, weekly or monthly basis, agree a designated time that works for you both and stick to it. (And don't forget you can also talk on the phone over the Internet with programs like Skype.)

Teens are text crazy. So put her favorite form of communication to good use! Sending short, quick texts doesn't require the undivided attention of a phone call, and chances are you'll get a faster response than with e-mail. Look into a family plan and save some cash.

Email is the primary mode of communication for many universities to contact their students, so chances are she'll be checking her email a lot. With an already overflowing inbox, a few from home won't seem like a hassle at all. Plus, email won't interrupt time with her friends or sleeping in. And receiving one at 3 a.m. when she's up cramming won't disturb your slumber either!

Social networking relationships change with college as well. Facebook is notorious for pictures of college life that you may not want to see! Make sure you both understand the privacy controls before relying on communication through online social networks. Remember that anything you post on her Facebook page is there for all her friends to see, so using it as your primary communication tool may not be your best bet.

Instant messaging is one of the many procrastination habits of college students. However, as more parents have caught on and learned the ropes, you may both be available online at the same time. Keep in mind you both use it to connect with other people as well; it's really an exercise in multi-tasking. If either of you requires the other's undivided attention, this might not be for you. But, like a text, it can be an easy way to say a quick "thinking of you".

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