College classes start up again soon—and whether your student is a freshman or senior, it can be a stressful time for both parties due to finances, moving, and new experiences.

You might think that because you’re assisting financially – tuition payments, rent, food, or other expenses – that you have a say in the career path or courses your child chooses. But here’s why you should take a backseat at the start of this new semester:

Your student should to learn to make decisions on their own. You want them to be independent, right? If you continue assisting in their decision-making process throughout their college career, they will have difficulties making these tough decisions in the “real world” without you. Allow them to decide on which classes they take, their schedule, study habits, etc. Although it can be difficult to give up control, this is their time to learn about themselves more than ever before—so, let them have it.

You may not have the same future goals as your student does. Although you may have always pictured your child as a doctor, teacher, or marketing guru, it’s probably not what they have in mind as a desirable career. Many students feel pressured to go into a career because of their parents’ influence, but it’s not often that career will make them happiest. By allowing your student to test out different career paths during college, they can discover what career path they’re most interested in—without outside influence. From there, they can decide on their career path, goals, and desired position to work towards while in school.  

Being too involved can add to their stress level. Taking on a new load of college courses is a lot to handle, particularly if your student is taking more than 12 credits per semester in order to get obtain their degree quicker. Not to mention the social aspect of college, along with working part-time or volunteering with a student organization. No need to add to their stress by being a “major mom” or dad—instead, sit back and let them learn from their decisions, whether they result in mistakes or not.

So, when the school year begins, resist the temptation to wiggle your way into your student’s decision-making process, and instead, allow them to think for themselves when it comes to their future.

Do you have any advice for other college parents for the beginning of the school year? How did you handle taking a back seat when your child went away to school?


Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.