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Give Your Child An Exit Interview Before Leaving For College: 20 Critical Questions To Enhance Your Communication & Relationship


It’s been quite a year for you and your child. Because of the pandemic, for most, there’s been a disrupted senior year and a lack of closure, a missed prom and graduation, and current uncertainty entering college. Transitioning to college is momentous and a major life event. There’s bound to be a stir of varied emotions filtering through you. These current circumstances are bound to intensify them on a whole new level.

You’re most likely excited for your child’s upcoming journey and prideful of their accomplishments. You may also be sad about your altering family structure and wondering how your relationship with your child will evolve going forward. Due to these unprecedented times with Covid, you may carry additional worry about your child’s health, their nontraditional first year college experience due to social distancing, and the concern of possible disruption and disappointment yet again if there’s a resurgence or a second wave hits.

The injustice of it all may evoke feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. When reflecting on your own experience, you can’t help but think about what could have been, what should have been, and what isn’t for your child. Instead of being primarily joyful and celebratory, you and your child were concurrently forced to face your fears, vulnerability, and fragility. No comfort or support can take away you and your child’s frustrations and disappointments with this past year. In your wildest dreams, you couldn’t imagine something like this would happen.

Now more than ever, you may cling to thinking that it hasn’t been enough time, that you yearn for togetherness, and desiring more opportunities for being present and engaging in quality family time with your child. You may also perseverate over thoughts about where you may have failed, what you have done right, and what you strive to do better in the future with your family.

Instead of wondering, considering giving your child an exit interview. They typically conduct these interviews at work. The purpose of doing them at work is to gain feedback from departing employees in order to improve aspects of the organization, better retain employees, and to reduce turnover.

If you want to better understand how to improve your relationship and home life so that your child considers their home a safe haven while visiting from school, or anytime in the future, consider asking them these questions to gain insight into the way they think and feel.

20 Questions To Ask Your Child Before Leaving For College:

  1. After all that you experienced since March with the coronavirus, how are you currently feeling?
  2. In what way has the pandemic directly impacted on your personal experience transitioning to college?
  3. Is there anything you need from me (us) to make the transition more fluid for you?
  4. How do you feel about leaving for college in general?
  5. It’s typical to have mixed feelings. What do you fear about going off to college? What are you looking forward to?
  6. Looking back, is there anything you regret before going off to college?
  7. What positive memories over time stand out for you that you’ll take with you?
  8. What do you think the climate at our home has been? Can you give some examples?
  9. What was that like for you?
  10. How did you think and feel about how we all communicated?
  11. Were you clear on what was expected of you at home? School? With your friends? etc. Is there something that we could have done to make it clearer?
  12. Any feedback for me (us) going forward to improve our communication with each other and/or with you and your siblings?
  13. Any general disappointments or improvements you can share that can be potentially beneficial with your siblings?
  14. How do you think and feel about your relationship with me (us)?
  15. What can I (we) do in the future that can help to improve it?
  16. Any concerns or feedback about your relationships with your siblings? How can I (we) work to improve those relationships?
  17. If you could change anything about our family life, what would you change?
  18. While you’re gone, how and when do you want to be communicated with?
  19. Are there things that you want us to consider and be sensitive to while you’re away?
  20. If you’re challenged in any way, would you feel comfortable approaching me (us)? Is there anything that would get in the way of you reaching out?

To facilitate open and authentic communication, agree to not interrupt, be open, non-judgmental, and take it all in before you comment on any of it. If you’re asking these questions, you have to be willing to hear the constructive comments, validate your child’s thoughts and feelings, and look to be proactive and make positive changes.

There may be feedback that surprises you, saddens you, and those that you are touched by. Understandably, because you strive to be a loving parent, it may even evoke feelings of criticism, defensiveness, and shame. Do your best to accept any thoughts or feelings that surface, whether you agree or disagree with the feedback, or whether it makes you feel comfortable or not. All the comments are meaningful because it gives you the opportunity to hear your child’s perspective and enhance your relationship with them going into the future.

There is just a short window until they leave. It’s incredibly hard to let go. When you think about the years that have lapsed and all that has happened, you recognize how quickly time passes. You experience growing pains alongside your child. Very soon you will let go, begrudgingly and lovingly. Warm hugs to you for all your joy and pain.

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