MuKappa can provide your TCK with the community and resources needed to successfully transition to college in North America.
Knowing how to best come alongside your student in making not only a transition to college, but also to an unfamiliar culture in North America, can often be overwhelming. Here are the questions we at MuKappa are often asked by parents just like you.
How can I prepare my TCKs for the transition they will face when they return to North America for college?
You’ve known this time was coming for many years. Maybe you’ve been able to use home assignment time to visit some colleges. Maybe that hasn’t worked out and you’ve only gathered information online. Either way, this is most certainly the biggest transition your young person will make in his or her life.
Consider sending your student to a Reentry Transition Seminar.
MuKappa and Barnabas International sponsor a seminar at Cedarville University. You may not think this is important–maybe you’ve just come off of home assignment and your graduate has been in the U.S. for a year or two. Maybe you have been back recently in their high school years, so you think they don’t really need a Transition Seminar.
Even if you think they don’t need training, they really do. We often run into students after the seminar sometime during their freshman year. We consistently hear, “I didn’t think it would be this hard, but I’m so glad I had the seminar to help me. I don’t think I would be making it now without the things I learned last summer.”
Selecting a college
If you’re unsure of how to choose a college, you can check the MuKappa Chapter map with a list of colleges that have an active MuKappa Chapter. Many TCKs have found a “family” in the MuKappa group on their campus that has been an encouragement to them as they figure out life in a new place.
What to do on the field before your student leaves
Maybe you’ve heard of the R.A.F.T.? It is an acronym developed by Dave Pollock (now with the Lord) who co-authored “Third Culture Kids” with Ruth Van Reken. This book is highly recommended and will enlighten you, as parents, to the characteristics of your TCK as well as help them in their upcoming transition. Talk through the R.A.F.T. (Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, and Think Destination) with your teen and help them finish well.
Make some special memories with your family
Visit favorite vacation spots. Talk about the family traditions that your son or daughter will want to take with them into their adult life. Talk about the plans they will have for holidays. Will they be able to come back home to where you are? Will they be with grandparents or other extended family? What about summer break?
Most likely, your college student will need to find employment to help pay for college. There are lots of great ministry opportunities available in the summer as well. Pray with them about the best way to use each summer.
This will also be a huge transition for you and the rest of your family. It’s important to talk about this move with the whole family. Younger siblings will be excited for your future college student, and while they may make jokes about getting their room or having larger portions of food, they will definitely miss their brother or sister when they leave.
Talk about these things now when you are still together and can talk face to face. Make sure your graduate has time with his or her siblings. Make sure the siblings have opportunities to say good-bye (make special gifts or scrapbooks to give to their older brother or sister as they leave!).
College is different from high school.
It’s more challenging academically. Students who breezed through high school may find college a completely different story. Encourage your teen to develop good study habits early in college so that final exams don’t catch them off guard.
Encourage them to work hard in college and avoid the temptation to drop classes when they are overwhelmed. Do you remember your college days? Remember “syllabus shock”?
Ways to help your college student when you’re living on a different continent
This is a hard one. It’s difficult to be far away. Certainly online sources are great ways to stay in touch, but it’s not the same, is it? For one, make sure you have worked through the R.A.F.T. as mentioned above so that your young person has had good closure leaving the country that is his or her home. Make sure they have some pieces of that home to take with them (souvenirs, flags, football jersey, etc.).
Who will take your new college student to campus and help them get set up in their dorm? We know that it’s not always possible to be the one to take them to college, but if you can, it will mean a lot. Even if you can’t be there when they move in, make sure someone can–extended family, a friend, maybe a supporter who has a good relationship with your teen. Sometimes churches are willing to be involved in collecting items for their dorm room (lamps, bedding, toiletries, etc.). Most colleges provide a list of suggested things to bring to college on their website.
Many colleges offer early orientation for TCKs and international students.
If that is available, please take advantage of it. It is always helpful for this group of students to meet each other. They have some unique needs as they get set up in college, and it’s helpful to navigate those adjustments with friends. MuKappa exists for this purpose–to help MKs with the adjustment to college. We desire to be more than that on campuses as the groups grow through their college years, but initially, MuKappa is definitely available to assist with the challenges of getting started.
Encourage your student to be patient with the process.
Just as a word of advice, these few years of college are difficult for every teenager. It’s a time when teens turn into adults. Somehow during these years, they have to move from being in your family and under your care on a daily basis into functional adults able to work a job and live in the real world. It’s a process. Give them freedom to make decisions on their own and let them learn how to navigate adult life. It’s an exciting time of life!