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Talking About Setting Goals with Your College Kid
| by Pauline Flores

The Importance of College Goal-Setting

Parents, you’re going to lose a lot of control over what your kids do when they go off to college. That’s just a part of life that you must accept. They grow into independent adults during their college experience. But of course, every college student spends those four years differently. College is an investment for the future. Unfortunately, some students see college as a four-year long party, inevitably neglecting the academic aspect of it. Take the time to talk with your son or daughter about goal-setting in college and what to hope to accomplish.

Getting the Conversation Started

Getting them to think about how they want to spend their time in college will help them realize what their goals are. This is the first step in accomplishing them. These questions will get the conversation going:

  • What are you most looking forward to in college?
  • What are your goals for the semester? For the whole year?
  • Do you think there’s anything that might hold you back from accomplishing your goals?

Try not to probe your kids for answers, and definitely don’t criticize their responses. Your goal from this conversation is to show your kid that you want them to have the best college experience possible. If their goals lean towards more of the social aspects of college, remind them that the academic part is just as important. If their goals are fully academically driven, remind them that college is about the experience as much as it is about grades. Balance is the key to success in college.

This conversation is an opportunity to nudge – not shove – your kid in a goal-oriented direction. The last thing college students need on top of their academic stress is a pushy helicopter parent. These parents seem to always hover around their children. While it’s not reasonable to choose a life path for them, these four years are a critical for encouraging your kid to grow and learn from experiences.

Final Thoughts

Taking the time to discuss college goal-setting is a wonderful opportunity to show that you truly care about your child’s future. The key takeaways here are to 1) show patience during your conversation and 2) try to put yourself in their shoes. Nowadays, there’s an immense pressure on college students unlike ever before to get outstanding grades, join multiple extracurriculars, and land that high-paying job after graduation. Try to understand their position to best guide them in the right direction.


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