Your Student is Moving Home after Graduation… What to Expect and How to Ease the Transition
Not long ago it was reasonable to expect that when your student left for college, they would not be returning home after graduation. However, a recent survey by Monster Trak indicates that 57 percent of college graduates plan to return home after graduation. Your student might move home for a number of reasons, most of which are financially motivated: your student may still be in the job-hunting process or cannot afford to live independently on an entry-level salary. Other reasons for moving home include the financial strain of paying off loans, the desire to save money for future goals such as a down payment, or perhaps they would like to live at home while attending graduate school.
Whatever the reason, both you and your student may have mixed emotions about this arrangement. As parents, it is not uncommon to have conflicting feelings such as happiness, excitement, anxiety or even anger. Your student may feel relief and less worried about paying bills, but may also feel uneasy about this temporary loss of independence. There are some risks for you as a parent, including the possibility of increased tension, misunderstandings and resentment, as well as the financial strain this may put on you. On the other hand, this arrangement may create a wonderful opportunity to form a new adult relationship with your student, which you may not have otherwise been able to do.
To minimize the risks and maximize the benefits, a few guidelines may be helpful. Overall, the key to having a successful living arrangement with your student is to communicate openly and proactively. Expectations for your student should be clear and negotiated in advance of the move back home. Some parents prefer to write a contract outlining house rules and expectations. That way, there is no room for ambiguity or lack of clarity. Other parents prefer to have an oral agreement. Regardless of how you outline these rules, the following areas should be addressed:
- Timeline. Both you and your student will benefit from discussing the general timeline for when the student plans to move out. This helps make it clear that the student should not expect to stay indefinitely.
- Paying rent. About half of students who move home contribute financially to the household. Whether or not the student contributes financially may depend on whether or not they have a source of income. Some parents expect their student to contribute a certain percentage of their income for rent (such as 20-30 percent); others charge a flat monthly fee; some will charge a nominal amount to cover the increase in costs of utilities; others will save the money their student gives them and return it to the student to use as a safety net when he or she moves out. If your student has the financial means to contribute even a small amount, this will teach financial responsibility and will help with adjustment when they move out.
- Household chores. A household functions best when all members are contributing to it. Some chores around the house should be allocated to your student.
- Privacy issues/boundaries. It is a good idea to set rules regarding guests and/or overnight visitors, whether you expect a phone call if your child spends the night elsewhere, whether alcohol is permitted in the house or what areas of the house, if any, are off-limits. Parents should also respect the privacy of their student and relinquish some of the control they had when their student was younger.
In general, you will be happiest if you continue to live your lifestyle in the same way as before. It is important not to slip back into old roles, and recognize that it is healthiest for everyone if you treat your grown child as an adult. Although there are some potential challenges, clear expectations and open communication will make the transition go as smoothly as possible.
The Georgia Tech Counseling Center is located on the second floor of the Student Services Building and is open each day from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The Center offers free consultations, as well as individual, couples and group counseling for enrolled Georgia Tech students. Additionally, we offer seminars and workshops on a variety of topics (stress management, time management, healthy relationships, depression and anxiety) throughout the semester. A schedule of dates and times can be found at www.counseling.gatech.edu. Students and parents can call our office for more information at 404.894.2575.