This story was first published in our Paying for College 101 Facebook community. It’s been edited for clarity and flow.
Here’s yet another parenting lesson that I learned the hard way.
New Grads Have New Challenges
Let’s say that your kid gets through college in four years, graduates with honors, gets an advanced degree, and manages to land a few really awesome job offers with great base salaries, signing bonuses, and relocation packages, too. These are seriously all worth celebrating.
The thing is, most jobs won’t actually pay out all of that money until someone has been on the job for at least 30 days.
So how do they afford to relocate, and where and how will they live while they await their first payday and all those bonuses?
Answer: Mom and Dad, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. You may need to, once again, pool resources, because your new grad is likely to still need your help, at least for a minute.
Expect that. We didn’t. Here’s what you need to know.
What Students Need After Graduation
In addition to their degree and their new awesome job, they’re going to require a few more things to successfully strike out on their own.
- First, sufficient money for a security deposit to rent a nice place.
- Second, a decent credit history to rent someplace kind of nice.
- Third, they may need a vehicle if the best job turns out not to be in a city or isn’t located somewhere convenient by mass transit.
These realities were not anywhere on my radar until recently.
How to Support a Future College Grad
So if I had it to do over again, this is what I would do differently:
- Sophomore or Junior year of college, I would have suggested she get a couple of low-limit credit cards so she would have a decent enough credit history. Since we didn’t think of it, I’ll probably be co-signing her first lease.
- I would have been more diligent about setting aside enough money for a security deposit and first month’s rent, so she could start out living in a safe, fairly nice place. Since I didn’t, I’ll likely end up clearing out most of my own emergency fund to get her initially set up – with the plan for her to pay me back when she actually gets her relocation and signing bonus.
- Until she can save up enough for her own car, it really looks like I’ll need to loan her my car, and I’ll wind up sharing cars with my husband.
In Summary: Make a Post-Graduation Plan
The point of my post is to urge others to plan ahead for success just a little better than I did. Learn from my mistakes and successes, if you can.
And make no mistake about it, let’s recognize that this is success. We avoided debt, and my kid got her Bachelor of Science in Engineering with high honors from a great school and will have a Master of Science in Engineering (MSE) in Robotics next week with a high-paying job in her field lined up, right out of college at the age of 23.
That’s definitely good.
But even successful students may need a few things from their support system to make that last final push into self-sufficiency. I don’t think we all acknowledge how much having a family that can (and will) help you ends up changing outcomes.
We still may not have a whole heap of money to give any one of our six kids. We may not be able to just give her a car as a graduation gift either, but we can give them what we’ve got. And oftentimes, that’s just enough.
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