It's fine for families to help new grads - the right way
Many parents find it difficult figuring out how much financial help to give to new graduates.
"In a climate like this, it's even trickier," said Tina Loudon, director of Western's Career Services Center, "because parents could worry about not being generous enough while their new grad is looking for work."
If parents can afford to give financial help, here's Loudon's advice: Don't provide so much assistance that they'll never want to move out.
"Frankly, if the parent is providing full room and board and a big-screen TV, there's not necessarily going to be a lot of motivation on the student's part," she said.
Psychologist Nancy Corbin, director of Western's Counseling Center, suggests families draw up an agreement so everyone's clear what parents will and won't provide - and what the student's responsibilities are.
Establishing a goal for this back-to-the-nest period can help, too, she said, whether it's saving money for graduate school or for a down payment on a car.
"This puts the arrangement in a positive frame, rather than, 'Oh, I have to live with my parents, because I can't find a job that pays well enough for me to get my own place,'" Corbin said. "Looking at this as an opportunity will make everyone happier about the arrangement."
How much help parents give will depend on their own situations, Corbin said. Many parents of new graduates are now ready to focus their resources on sending their younger children to college, caring for elderly relatives or preparing for their own retirement.
And a little strategic help now might pay off in the long run, Loudon added.
For example, if a student can't find a job that helps launch a career, he or she might consider moving back home to take an unpaid internship or a volunteer position that provides career-related experience.
"If Mom and Dad have the wherewithal to help out, to intern or volunteer can be a better long-run investment than taking a low-wage job with no career potential. As an intern or volunteer new grads can continue building their resumes, and make connections that can lead to career employment in the future."
Other ways families can help include:
- Encouraging students to purchase their own health insurance. Most students lose coverage under their parents' plan once they graduate. Check into Basic Health Plan in Washington state at www.basichealth.hca.wa.gov/.
- Helping students learn to network by talking about how you build and maintain your own professional relationships.
- Reminding them to stay in touch with Western's Career Services Center, which is free to students and for six months after graduation. See www.careers.wwu.edu.
- Remembering that job searching is a stressful time and family tension is natural. Try to listen and help students set goals, Corbin suggests, but avoid lecturing on what new graduates have done wrong.