Arming your college graduate for adulthood

Tassels, robes, diplomas, good-byes, parties and celebrations are all hallmarks of graduation season. It is one of the proudest moments in the lives of both parents and students. But is your favorite graduate truly ready for the road ahead? In this economy, being a new graduate is quite a bit more intimidating than it was even a year ago. Even though your graduate has gained the educational tools to launch a career, he or she will probably need your guidance now more than ever…whether he wants to admit it or not.

Alicia on “Encouraging Positivity”

“Even if your child thinks she is ready to tackle the world on her own, the truth is that life after college can be very challenging. In this market, jobs are few and far between so do your best to be understanding if they need to move back in with you temporarily while searching for a job. They probably want to do everything on their own but encourage them to take a temp job in a similar field while they interview for permanent and full time jobs. They can save this money to move into their own place in a few months or pay you rent if that’s the arrangement you agree on. Be sure to set up ground rules if they do ask you to move in during the job search. Keep in mind that landing a full time job for a college graduate used to take 4-6 months. It now can take a year or more in this economy. While moving back home is not necessarily ideal for parents or graduates, allowing them to fall into deep debt can nullify all of their hard work in college. Also, continue to be positive if they get a job that pays well but one that they hate and encourage them to stick with it while looking for another position.”

Sarah on “…Speaking the D-word”

We’ve probably all at one point or another spent more than we could afford. Now is the time to talk frankly with your graduate about the D-word: DEBT. A graduate from a top tier school who may have been counting on job paying $40,000-$55,000 a year starting salary is likely to have to take a position paying $10-$12 dollars per hour until the economy improves. Don’t let them fall into the debt trap: opening one credit card to keep up their fun lifestyle, and another card to pay for bills that are piling up. Show your children the consequences of debt and bankruptcy such as inability to get loans for a home or even their own cell phone plan with bad credit. Encourage them to keep track of their score. Yes, they are adults and will make mistakes on their own, but being involved enough to put the “little birdie” in their ear may keep them on the right track.

Here are a few more “real world” preparedness tips:

1. Lend a Hand with Tax Prep

A majority of college graduates have never filed taxes before, so go through their first filing together. If you are not a tax wiz, set them up with an appointment with your accountant and go with them the first time so you too can understand how they should be filing. Your tax newbies will appreciate your help.

2. Help Them Network

We all know the saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” Get into your Rolodex, your Outlook Business Contacts, your Facebook, your book club, anywhere and everywhere to ask if anyone is looking to hire a fresh faced and hard working graduate. You never know where it could lead. Also, bring your son or daughter with you to township meetings, community service events, or other arenas where you can introduce them to others.

3. Just Be There

You may feel like your kids can handle life on their own now, but they do still need you, even if it’s just for emotional support. They don’t want to be babied, so try not to be condescending when they tell you a story that their cell phone rang with the song “Big Pimpin’” during a meeting with their boss. However, remind them how proud you are if they are working two jobs to have their own apartment or if they are continually going to 3 interviews a week even after 8 months of looking. If your child is lucky enough to have gotten a job they love, be interested in the work they are doing. Your kids want your approval even if they act “too cool for school.”