We asked our parents to share their advice, guidance and feedback in order to provide valuable insight for parents who are considering College Excel for their young adult.
Following are a set of questions we asked our parents to answer. These are the answers given by parents whose son has recently completed College Excel, received post-College Excel transitional coaching and is now a student at Oregon State University.
What advice would you give to new College Excel parents? Trust the process – it will be uncomfortable at times, for you as parents, and for your student. When we first started, another parent who had been through the program said “Let them work their magic.” That was wise.
What resources would you advise new CE parents to use? Have someone to talk with about your fears, discomfort, frustrations. Someone who can help you move through that without going back to old patterns or getting discouraged.
If you utilized our parent coaching program what impact did it have on your experience and relationship with your student? The parent coaching program helped us when we got stuck and didn’t know how to move forward in new and constructive ways. Having language that was clear and different than old patterns was extremely helpful.
What surprised you most about your student’s or your College Excel experience? It really is a parallel process. We didn’t realize how much we were changing and growing right alongside our student until we look back. Humility and teachability are key for parents and students.
We were surprised at how competent and capable our student was and is as he received someone to help him grow in confidence and agency. We were surprised by how much closer our relationship grew as we all learned how to honestly express ourselves in ways that built trust.
In your opinion, what did your student like most about the CE experience? What did you like the most? What were the most challenging parts for you? Your student? Our student liked the coaching relationship and opportunities for leadership the most. He really enjoyed the structure CE gave him – it just worked for him. We loved the check-ins with our student and coach the most. It was awesome to experience our student as an adult who was invested in himself and in the program. We got to know our student in new ways as his coach highlighted and articulated strengths and growth areas in ways we hadn’t seen before.
The most challenging part for us was to learn new ways to think and communicate with our student. We had to also invest in ourselves and the program, as well as our student.
It was also challenging to talk about and navigate what coming home for breaks would look like – setting expectations and navigating hurt feelings and not getting pulled back into old patterns. We found parent coaching the most helpful around this.
For our student, the most challenging was overcoming fear of failure. He trusted his coach to walk alongside him and grew so much that he was able to see a failure as one of the most empowering experiences he had.
How did you interact with your student during their College Excel experience that was helpful? Unhelpful? We asked questions and sought to understand him and his experience. We respected his pace and thought process around making decisions about classes or living situations. We acted as a sounding board and refrained from giving advice.
What would you tell parents considering College Excel? I tell parents that they need to be ready to allow their student agency and trust the people and process at CL.
What were your biggest takeaways from the Parent Webinars? We loved the other parents – the love for their students and their care for them was beautiful. It was so good to be with other parents who “get it.”
What did you learn about yourself during your CE experience? I parented from a place of fear, which was not unwarranted, but also not helpful. I needed help to grow as much as my student.
What would you tell a student about being a parent? What advice would you give a student about relating to their parents? Parents have issues just like you do, and our stuff impacts our relationship as much as yours. And your parents are so for you -they are learning what that can look like in a way that is effective for you. As much as you want them to be patient with you, be patient with them. And let them into your life and thoughts…shame tells us to hide, whether we are a parent or a student. Letting your parents know you, and getting to know them -strengths and weaknesses – is what an adult relationship looks like.
What was the most important change you made that had the biggest impact on your student, yourself, your relationship with your student? Letting go of control…trusting our student and allowing him agency. It was huge.
What appealed to you about College Excel when you considered it as an option for your student? The opportunity afterward to stay in Bend and attend OSU was the biggest draw for our student. He did follow that goal and is finishing up his degree at OSU and loving it, even during Covid.
What was the boundary or incentive that created the biggest motivation for your student to change? Our student really wanted to move on with his life and he knew he was stuck. He wanted to develop intrinsic motivation and his coach helped him do so.
How do you feel your students coach impacted their experience? Our student coach made our experience what it is. She was wise, patient, compassionate, honest and direct. She helped our student see his strengths and advocated for ways to develop those strengths, She helped our student see where he needed to grow and together they made measurable goals toward that.
Our student’s housing situation also helped him grow – he learned that he can live with people way way different than him, and he learned how to work through issues that come up in sharing a house. It was empowering for him.
What do you wish you had known before your student started College Excel? I can’t think of anything.
Additional thoughts: We loved the weekend visits where we met other students and parents and the faculty. We are disappointed that Covid hit and hasn’t allowed us to visit, or for our student to continue to invest in CE as a mentor. That said CE did a great job creating a safe environment for our student to continue to engage at a basic level.
CL also helped our student transition to being on his own as a student at OSU. He has done transitional coaching and it has been incredibly helpful for him to know his coach is there if he needs her.