Each week, our Sunday School class opens with a time of prayer. There are three main reasons I appreciate my class. First and foremost, we pray. Our members keep in contact as needs arise between Sundays. Second, we have a great Bible teacher. Third, I love the fellowship. When I am on the road, I miss my class.

This weekend, I sat and listened to those who requested prayer. One was a husband who had just returned from taking his first son to college. The wife was absent that morning, and he shared about how much she cried on the trip home. Their son wasn’t feeling good when they dropped him off, so this loving mother was even more concerned about abandoning him. Next came a lady with a praise report. She and her husband had dropped their daughter off for her sophomore year of college and celebrated all the way home. What a difference a year makes!

For all you parents who are back home wondering what in the world your child is doing at college, allow me to give you some wise counsel.

You have been a partner in your child’s development since birth. You have guided and nurtured this child from preschool through elementary and then high school. Away from home? Out of sight? Yes, but even college students need support and encouragement from home. They want security along with new-found freedom. They need to know you are still there for them. Remind your college-age child that there is no “i” in teamwork but two in “idiot.”

The first year of college will highlight the skills you forgot to teach your child: balancing the checkbook, doing laundry or handling those “What do I do when my car’s oil light shines red?” problems. Believe it or not, I once talked to a college dorm advisor who told me that one of her first-year residents packed the washer so full of clothing that the agitator couldn’t turn.

Parents, your children have spent most of their lives telling you what they want to be when they grow up. Guess what? When they go to college, they will forget why they are there. They will change their majors at least twice and cost you an extra year or more of college expenses. In the end, the best college major is like water: it flows where there is the least resistance.

Your college-aged child will remember to call home . . . when money is low. He will call to let you know he is bringing his entire dorm home for dinner . . . the night before Thanksgiving. She will call you when her car breaks down on the side of the road. He will call you when he needs even more money. She will call you to tell you they won’t be home for Thanksgiving because she is going to meet the parents of her “new friend.” And he will call when he needs still more money to get back home to visit the parents he misses so much (and who happen to have a washer and dryer that don’t require quarters). Outside of these situations, don’t expect many calls.

You sent one off, but two will come back. It’s almost a guarantee: your child will meet someone special. College is not only about higher education and building a career but also about relationships. I’ve heard of some young ladies who go to college believing they will “get a ring by spring” or have their tuition refunded. If your child does bring home someone special, remember: in all likelihood, that someone will live at least 10 states or one continent away. For the rest of your life, your child’s time will be divided between Oklahoma and Rhode Island or Guam. The only way to prevent this scenario is to send your child to a four-year “junior college.”

Most of all, I think college is a good time to . . . pray. Phone calls make a great time to pray with your college student. There’s a big difference between telling him you prayed and actually praying. Ask, “What’s your greatest challenge in the dorm?” or “How can I pray for you today?” Pray for their friends. Pray that your children will be light and salt as they walk across the campus. Pray that they will be actively involved in life-changing Bible studies. Pray that the faith of their fathers and mothers will become . . . their own. When that occurs, the calls you receive will not be about money or a special friend, but about the great things God is doing . . . at college.