How to Care for Your College Student During the Pandemic

It's tough figuring out how to best care for your college student during the pandemic, but with these tips, parents can help them deal with the added stress.

Three college-aged kids sitting on steps while wearing face masks

This year has been challenging for everyone — especially college students.

Whether they are commuters who have to meet on campus on certain days, or they signed a lease and paid for an apartment already, these students are away from their families (many for the first time) during a global pandemic.

Claudia Lico, from Shelby Township, is a mother of two. Her daughter lives at home while attending Oakland University and her son is away at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — Neither one of her children thought this would be the college experience they would be getting.

With her help, we have compiled some tips to help parents care for their college kids during this strange and stressful time.

Keeping in touch

According to Lico, one of the most important things to do is to check in on your kids and make sure they are feeling and doing okay with everything going on.

For her son who’s away, “I’ll call him and say ‘hey, how was your day?’ ‘Is there anything you need from me’,” Lico says. “I check in on a regular basis.”

Whether it be a text, a phone call or even a video chat, it’s important to keep that open dialogue with your kids.

“We FaceTime a lot more, so we check in that way, too,” she says.

During these calls, she suggests that you make sure you’re asking about their health, as well because many college kids will stay up late and not realize they’re sleep deprived.

“I ask him if he’s getting enough rest and eating properly,” she says. “Of course, you get the whole, ‘Yeah, Mom,’ but he’s still my kid and I still like to check on him since he’s away.”

If you can’t get through via phone or FaceTime, try texting, which can be a bit easier for the kids to respond to since they’re usually busy with their workload.

Outside of checking in, another important thing to check in on is whether or not they have food, toiletries and other needed items.

Liso often asks her son if he has enough toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer and other things that a college student might not be concerned about until it’s too late.

Helping from home

Since the majority of her son’s classes are online, he has been coming home a lot more than he would if his classes had been in person, so Lico can make sure she sends him back with clean clothes, prepped meals and essentials.

“I try to make their lives easier to help with little stuff, laundry and groceries,” she explains. “They don’t have to worry about any of that stuff on top of their studies, because their studies seem to be doubled or tripled from home.”

She handles making appointments, checks in to make sure that their car has enough gas and does her best to put a smile on and make them feel as normal as possible.

She also makes it a priority to do things with her daughter, who is taking online college classes at their home, in order to get her mind off of her studies when she needs a break.

“We’ll take a mental break and work on a puzzle,” she says. “We’ve been into the Disney ones, the Thomas Kincade ones.”

Being there for them

As a parent, your college kid may be stressing about their online classes and teachers that aren’t so great with technology.

Consider asking them what they need from you or what you can do to help them and listen to what they suggest. If they don’t suggest anything, just make it a point to be a someone they can talk to, especially if they are living alone.

“Basically, (these kids) are home inside and there’s no social interaction,” says Lico. “You can’t see anyone. If you happen to live alone, it’s probably even worse.”

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