Sending your child off to college for the first time is a large life transition, and with it comes a lot of advice on what you “should know” about how to make that transition successful. The number of articles is overwhelming, so what follows is a compilation of the most common advice for parents of incoming freshmen:
- Be your child's trusted advisor. Fully support them, but get out of the way. You are in a new role. You are not in charge of their college life simply because you are funding some portion of it. Do not call the President with roommate issues. Instead, listen to their woes and help them figure out where to go for help on campus. There are many professional people working to support students on college campuses!
- At the same time, be understanding with yourself. This is likely one of the most emotional moments of your life. Be sad, be happy, say you’re sorry when you don’t play your new role well, give yourself a hug.
- Say goodbye before the moment you're parting ways. This is a big deal. Remind your child of the "big picture" reasons you love them! Don’t drive away calling out a reminder to make their bed. And if you're too choked up to say all that you want to say, write a letter when you get home and mail it to them.
- Learn to communicate via email, text, social media if you haven't already. Do not expect to talk by phone every day.
- When you do communicate, ask open ended questions. Be ok with not getting much information sometimes, and getting too much information other times. As the months pass, you’ll both figure out what's the right amount to share with you.
- Remember that they do not become a "college student" the moment you arrive on campus. They have to learn and fumble and slowly emerge as their "college student" self over time. Give them space to do that without commenting on it or directing it.
- Talk and ask about potentially uncomfortable things: alcohol and drugs, relationships, emotional health. Remind them that there are resources on campus for just about everything, and encourage your child to use them.
- Do not make surprise visits to campus, either for fun or in a panic. Plan your fun visits, and call the college before making a panicked visit.
- Do not decorate their dorm room.
- Let them navigate course selection on their own. There is academic support on campus, and there are more safety nets than meet the eye. They'll be ok.
With these recurring pieces of advice in your back pocket, we wish you well as you send your child off to the next chapter of her life (and yours!).
Signet can help your student (and you) make the best transition to college. We can help with study habits, organization, and subject tutoring. Let us know if we can help!