By Ashley Reich

As a parent, you have assisted your child in finding the right degree program and walked them through the financial aid process from start to finish each year of college. Now, after four years of hard work, it is time for them to graduate. Graduation has such nostalgia from playing ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ to walking across the stage and moving that tassel from one side to the other. This entire practice symbolizes the movement of one phase of life to the next, which can create excitement and anxiety all in a matter of minutes. Many students long for this moment as a key marker in their life as they enter a new phase of adulthood. Unfortunately, there is little preparation for what it will be like out in the “real world” as a newly graduated college student. Let’s explore some of the ways to best prepare your child before they graduate.

Start Applying for Jobs

Your child has received the degree that he or she wanted, but now comes the part of applying those skills in a work setting. Hopefully, your child has had the opportunity to gain skills through either a job on campus or volunteering in an area of interest that is resume worthy. In a recent article by Harvard Business Review, it discusses the importance of a network and utilizing the friends, professors, and supervisors to assist your child in finding a job in his or her degree field. This network of professional people will be invaluable immediately upon graduation, but also as your child begins to look for other opportunities in the future.

Student Loan Repayment

Many students forget about the fact that their student loan payments will begin after the allotted 6-month grace period by the federal government. It is important to get a handle on the total amount of debt owed, types of student loan repayment plans, and the options for repaying the loans down quickly. Additionally, if your child is going into a particular field such as, teaching or public service, they maybe be eligible for one of the federal loan forgiveness programs to help relieve them of a significant amount of student loan debt.

Budget Expenses

Your child is likely going to want to find his or her own independence upon graduation. This could look like their own home, getting married, and starting a family. For some, it may look like a brand-new location in the world. Whatever your child dreams of doing after graduation, it is best to provide reality as to the cost of these endeavors. A budget is a great first step to realizing the true expenses to living on their own. With inflation on the rise and housing costs being higher than ever, a realistic budget for those expenses will be necessary for your child to stay on track and not go into debt. Dave Ramsey makes a simple 7-step process to paying off debt and saving for your child’s future. These tried and true “Baby Steps” will provide a clear and attainable way to pay off debt quickly and begin to save for future expenses, retirement, their children, and beyond.

As a parent, it is difficult to let your child go from under your protection and control; however, this part of life is exciting for them as they learn to navigate life’s challenges along the way. Setting your child up for success from beginning to end is truly a monumental task. Regardless, it is well worth the effort to ensure he or she is ready to land their dream job, budget properly, and prepare for their next phase of life.