Showing posts with label parenting college kids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting college kids. Show all posts

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ten Practical Advice For Dormitory Life

It's graduation time once more and many kids in the provinces will be moving to Manila for college. Parents are busy preparing for this move emotionally and financially. Thank God, I did not have to do that as my son chose to go to a university less than 25 kms from our house.  Last year  however, I was asked by my brother to assist my nephew for his move to Ateneo de Manila, where he was going to be enroll as a college freshman.  Why me?  Well, I think it's because I am most familiar with Metro Manila and I continue to come and go for seminars and other work related events.  Like me, my brother also spent his 8 years of schooling there, but for the last 15 years or so, he rarely goes there and he says he does not know how to get around anymore.  So last June 2011, I helped my nephew settle in his student residence outside campus. The whole experience of helping him move was I think, not much different to my own experience in the mid-70's when I went to UST, also in Manila to study.  In fact, I had a strong sense of deja vu...only this time I was no longer the child but in the role of my mother.  Living away from all things familiar and a pampered life, makes a person very appreciative of what they left behind.  I won't write about how to choose a dorm or boarding house, as I'm sure most if not all Manila-bound students have chosen a place to live by now, rather here are my 10 practical advice to help parents and children make a painless transition from living at home to away from home.

Practical Advice No. 1  Make A List/ Checklist
Making lists helped me organize all the essential things my nephew needed for dorm life. I divided the items into categories like dorm room necessities, electronics, clothes, etc...and those we can bring from home or source locally and those we will buy in Manila. I used a computer for this since it was too tiresome writing it down.  This helped us save money on many things like pillows, bed linens, clothes, etc.  The list also was a way to keep an inventory of all the things he had.

Practical Advice No. 2  Open A Bank Account
Open an ATM bank account for easy transfer of funds for allowances and other miscellaneous expenses.  It would also be useful if your child has an e-card (attached to your main credit card) for on-line payments of airline tickets. For easier financial management, dormitory fees can be paid directly by way of PDC's (post-dated checks) good for one year.

Practical Advice No. 3 Make A Budget
It is important that a budget is made so that parents can make a projection of the amount of money they have to prepare for each semester. The budget should include food allowance, dormitory fees including electricity, water and laundry, school expenses like projects, field trips, etc., grocery and toiletries. Other miscellaneous expenses can be requested for and reimbursed when necessary. This will help your child be conscious to live within a budget and avoid unnecessary expenses.

Practical Advice No. 4 Plan An Itinerary
Before leaving, it would be useful to check via the internet (for ex. google maps) the surrounding area where your child will be living and plan an itinerary of places to check out. In my case, I had a daily schedule of where to go and what to do for the 6 and a half days that I was there. It made each day more organized and less tiring.

Practical Advice No. 5  Have A Mini-Conference With Dorm Manager
Aside from the usual contract signing and house rule orientation, ask for a mini-conference with the dorm manager.  Here we were able to talk about safety and curfew, visitors, transportation, laundry, use of kitchen appliances (not allowed) and other related issues.  It is important to ask and clarify all concerns especially if this is not clear or well understood. This also established a good rapport between the dorm staff and myself which facilitated an open and easy communication between us in the coming months.

Practical Advice No. 6 Explore and Identify
Use every available opportunity to familiarize your child with his new environment. Once we arrived at the airport, I began giving him tips on traveling alone and as we were going to his dormitory, I pointed out places that can be used as landmarks. The next few days we walked around the area, checked out the banks near his dorm, the eating places, churches, etc. We also checked out the local transport, the tricycle whose route includes the Ateneo campus. And don't forget the MRT/LRT. It is the fastest way to commute but avoid the rush hours. We went to the nearest malls and visited relatives in the Quezon City area. We also explored the whole length of Katipunan Avenue and found that basically everything can be found here.

Practical Advice No. 7  Make Friends, Establish Contacts
Once settled in, encourage your child to get to know his roommate/s and to make friends with other dormers.  It would be wise also to establish contact with schoolmates who are already studying in Manila.  My nephew and I met up with his seniors in high school a few days after we arrived.  They were only too happy to assist him. As the days went by, we saw other students with their parents coming in and I would start a conversation with them much to my nephew's embarrassment.  Also, meet up with relatives living in the area (Quezon City in our case), know how to go to their houses, get their contact numbers.

Practical Advice No. 8  Create A System/Coordinate with Roommate/s
Living away from home means you have to learn how to take care of yourself. This means taking charge of your meals, laundry, personal belongings, etc. Then there is scheduling the cleaning of the room by housekeeping, trash collection, use of air-conditioners and other electrical appliances in the room, including placing of food in the fridge and pantry. A system should be agreed upon with your roommate/s regarding the use of facilities and common areas/communal items for harmonious living.

Practical Advice No. 9 Know Important Numbers
Keep a list of emergency numbers like the doctor, assigned guardian (my aunt in our case), front desk, dorm manager, security. Provide the dormitory with contact numbers of family and next of kin.

Practical Advice No. 10 Watch Your Back
Better safe than sorry. Don't take unnecessary chances. Those are noteworthy statements that I have tried to inculcate in the minds of my children and my brother's children. Manila is not a safe city and it is up to us to make it safer for our kids. We warn them, teach them to be streetwise, provide them with skills and knowledge but we can only do so much...the rest, we leave up to God.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Bound For Greatness

Last week, I wrote about Preemie girl and now it's Big brother's turn. My son whom I raised since he was 5 months old is now 21 and hopefully will be graduating from college this year. Unlike my daughter, I had no behavior issues with him when he was growing up. He was such an obedient child that it was easy to bring him along with me to public places because he was very behaved. It was when he started school that problems started. Although he was a sensitive and intelligent boy, he did not like studying. Unfortunately, I did not have the skill nor the inclination to instill in him good study habits because I too did not like to "study". Therefore, I could not teach him what I did not have, which is weird because I was and still am an avid reader and a life-long learner. It is not the learning part that I hated about school but the process of teaching of what must be learned that was being used by traditional schools. I was the type that needed teachers who knew how to challenge and motivate me. However, unlike my son, I forced myself to study when I needed to even if I found the lessons incomprehensible or was bored to death with the subject matter, while he simply did not care whether he passed or not. This attitude led me to do research on learning styles and learning disabilities as he was growing up. Finding information on multiple intelligence was an eye-opener for me but it seems that in 1995, not many teachers or schools were aware of this or if they were, they did not apply this in their teaching methods and remained very traditional in their evaluation and grading system. And so, my son went through his high school years struggling in all his math subjects but breezing through MAPE, Social Studies and the like. Like any concerned mom, I got him weekend tutors in math and Filipino to check his understanding and skills at the same time to give him some advanced lessons. He passed but clearly, he never quite developed a love for study.

BUT, there were other things that he was very very good at.  For the longest time, it became a habit for me to sing to him nightly while putting him to sleep.  I think I have memorized all the nursery rhymes and cartoon theme songs in the world. I even had a Spanish one.  His birth-mother was tone-deaf and for this reason, I'd like to believe that his musical ability is all because of me.  He first sang during his pre-school culminating activity where he had the role of the prince in Cinderella, and all through his primary grades up to high school, he was the class favorite to compete in the school's annual singing contest.


When he began his intermediate grades I would teach him some simple chords using the Yamaha guitar left to me by my dad.  Before long he was mastering it and was teaching himself to play the harder chords.  I bought him his first guitar soon after, which was upgraded to a more expensive one by the end of his high school.  Today, he is good enough to get invited to play in college acoustic bands.

But it's not all about music for my son. He dabbles in photography, getting more adept at it as time goes by.  He is also an accomplished swimmer, competing in high school intramurals and used to play little league basketball. But his other great passion is Taekwondo.  Although expensive, I enrolled him in lessons when he was 9 years old believing that it would develop discipline and character in him.  I did not know that it was going to be a long-term love affair for him.  He had enough motivation to make it up to Black Belt- First Dan and joined competitions every summer.  He was good enough to make it into the college varsity team and won a silver medal (it should have been gold, but that is another story...) in the senior division of the 2009 NOPSSEA.  He plans to make 2nd Dan this summer.

He is very good with children and when he was 11, he asked to become a god-father to one of his nephews. He is a loyal friend, a loving, caring and protective son, grandson, brother and cousin. He does not abuse his privileges and never asks for his wants, only for his needs.  Except for wishing that he has better grades, there is not much more I can ask for in a son. I continue to pray that he will be a good man, a man that God meant him to be. Although he is far from perfect and continues to be a work in progress, I have no doubt in my mind that my only son is bound for greatness. 

Greatness Starts @Home Blogging Contest

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