6 Ways Families Can Stay in Touch Through College

Both students and parents can make concessions to keep the channels of communication open.

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Parents and college students often have different ideas about how to stay in touch. Knowing the issues and managing expectations can help smooth the path.

Here are some tips our family has found to be useful for communicating:

JULIE:

1. Become tech savvy: I recently heard a joke about why parents shouldn't text. The mother had sent a text to her son saying, "Your great aunt died. LOL." When the son asked why, exactly, his mother was laughing, she answered that she thought "LOL" meant "lots of love."

You may fumble with texting, be the last Facebook holdout, and have no idea what a Tweet is, but these are the ways this generation of students communicates. The fact is, the more tech savvy you become, the more opportunities you'll have to stay in touch with your child.

[Get more tips for communicating with your college student.]

2. Mix it up: Care packages aren't just for freshman year. Getting physical mail is nice for students of all ages, especially when they contain food, money, or gift cards. Try mixing up texts, phone calls, cards and packages, and actual visits, if the budget allows.

[Consider using one of these college care package ideas.]

3. Embrace change: Lindsey is only a sophomore, but the way we're communicating is already changing. She's home much less, which makes frequent E-mails and texts even more important.

And the kinds of things she calls home about have changed as well. We hear less about roommates and bad college food and more about interviews and graduation requirements. It's important to be receptive to your child's changing priorities.

[Find out how to embrace change after a student's first year.]

LINDSEY:

1. Learn to make time: Between school, extracurricular activities, campus jobs, and having a social life, keeping in touch with my friends and family often gets pushed to the bottom of my to-do list. Oftentimes, I have to fit in calls home while walking between classes, simply because it's the only free time I have in the day.

Even if it's only a five-minute call or short text message, schedule a few minutes into your day to touch base back home.

2. Do what works for you: I talk to my family almost every day, whether it be by text, phone, or E-mail, because I like to keep them updated on the little things that happen in my days.

One of my friends, however, only calls home every Sunday to check in and catch up about his week. Another of my friends has a private Facebook group with her old group of friends, in which they keep each other informed about what's going on in their lives.

The point is: There are lots of different ways to keep in touch; find the one that works best for you and run with it!

3. Include everyone: Some people—like parents, siblings, and best friends—are easy to keep in touch with. But don't forget the importance of occasional E-mails or phone calls to other people, too, including grandparents, high school coaches, and childhood friends. Just because you're in college doesn't mean you have to forego those nostalgic relationships.