Have you ever thought about contracts? Why we have them or why they are even necessary? Who do they benefit? Who are they for? My husband has had one with every single employer. I always found it pretty weird – didn’t they trust him? But I eventually realized that a contract isn’t a matter of distrust….it is more of a matter of having clear-cut expectations. That rewards and consequences are clearly stated so that there would be no surprises. But why should contracts be for only employers and employees?
What would it feel like to know that you and your college student would have no arguments or disagreements because all expectations and consequences for their time in school have been clearly laid out? Because, before he/she went off to college, you established a parent and student college contract.
My son, Matt, is one of those people who are crazy smart – in fact, too smart (if there is such a thing). If he did not grasp the concept in 10 seconds or less (exaggerating here) he gave up and did not follow-thru. Hence his tests results were either amazing or not good at all. His average was just that….average. As a result, his college choices were limited. At the urging of his counselors, he applied to a local college and got accepted. We all thought he won the lottery and we celebrated!
Don’t get me wrong here – I love my son fiercely. But, knowing my son, and his tendencies to ‘put off today so that he could do it….never’, I was concerned that he would not take college seriously. I was concerned he would think that going to college was a right….not a privilege.
I happened to mention this to a friend and she told me about her college contract with her son. PARENT COLLEGE STUDENT CONTRACT?! Oh my gosh – what an awesome idea. We have contracts at work, in our marriages, with phone companies and cable companies. So… why not a College Contract?
My husband and I discussed what our hopes and dreams were for our son. And, within that framework – what were our expectations of him while he was in college. And, as the people paying the college tuition, we needed to be sure that he knew our expectations and did not play the ‘I had no idea’ or ‘I didn’t know that’ cards. My husband works hard for the money that we have and we did not want it squandered and wasted.
As it turns out, it is a good thing we had a college contract in place. He flunked out of his 1st semester in school. We pulled out the contract, showed him how he missed the expectations, and told him we were done paying.
Then, we found out that he did not really want to go to college. He only went because his friends were going and he really wasn’t sure what else to do.
Wow – if only we had known – a lot of heartbreak could have been eliminated. Not including the money spent that could have been saved. Check out ‘Is Going to College the Right Choice for Your Child’.
You know your child. Do you think you both might benefit from a college contract? Do you think it might save future misunderstandings? Even if they are already in college it is not too late to draw one up. You can use mine and edit it all you want to. Or draw one up that suits you best.
The benefits of a Parent College Student Contract are –
Consequences are laid out clearly
Want to know what we had in our contract and what worked for me?
I have included the exact contract that we used – it’s FREE. You can grab it right HERE. Normally it is included in the Joyful Living Toolbox (an amazing resource waiting for you).
But, because I feel that everyone should have some type of agreement with their student I am including it for you to grab. Contracts and agreements will avoid so much heart ache and strife down the road.
Here is another example of a Parent College Student Contract.
What if expectations were not met and the College Contract is violated – what next? What do you do now? Well…this is the tricky and hard part as parents (If you are anything like me, as a mom, we lead with their hearts). Have you ever heard of tough love — the act of following thru even tho it’s tough and hard? As a mom, I welcomed the opportunities to teach lessons while my kids were home…when the consequences were relatively minor and they could rally and become a more responsible adult. Following through was important to me….but, oh was it hard!
Unfortunately, you need to be prepared to enforce your consequences even tho it will be hard and emotional. Here’s a fact that may just come as a surprise to you: you can do it without all the arguments and fighting. There is nothing to argue about if the consequences are laid out in a contract. A hard lesson has been learned – but one learned while still becoming adults. Even tho they are in college, you are still there to help him/her pick up all those shattered pieces. And the contract violation will be one lesson that will, hopefully, set them up for a better future.
Would I have changed anything in our College Contract?
I have to admit, I really didn’t think that we would need to revoke Matt’s college privileges. I really didn’t think that he would completely flunk out. As a result, we didn’t have any of the ‘living back at home’ consequences laid out before he came home. Once we realized we would need a ‘living back at home’ contract, this is what we established (It would have been better to have included these items initially) –
As for me – I was totally prepared for action. I was totally prepared to help him pack his suitcases….again. I was totally prepared to help him become a better man. A man of his word with integrity. Not a man of privilege and entitlement. If I could do this, you can too!
After living at home and trying some part time jobs, paying his own bills and realizing he wasn’t getting anywhere, he took a few online classes. Which parlayed into a few community college classes and then he went back to college – with a contract.
He proceeded to graduate with a Major in Physics and a Minor in Math. He currently works for the company that runs and maintains all the software for the world’s stock exchanges – in development and trouble shooting. Yes, crazy smart….and one of those anomalies – smart AND personable too! He is very responsible and now follows thru with all of his commitments. Such a good boy and I am so proud of him.
Is a college contract a good idea? That is really up for you to decide. Personally, I think it made us closer. And I am so happy that we had one.
As always, I really appreciate you reading to the end! Have an awesome week!
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