change ahead

The Countdown Begins...

You made it through their final exams, graduation (with only a couple of tears) and the parties. Now you're focusing on orientation, housing assignments and move-in day... the countdown has begun!

As the summer gets into full swing, you may notice differences in your student, yourself and other family members as everyone prepares for your student’s first time at college and living away from home. Here are some tips on how to navigate the changes ahead:

  • Fluctuating emotions: going to college and moving away from home are major life changes for everyone. Sometimes these changes come with emotional flare-ups.  Everyone handles change differently; some barrel through, some retreat, some are excited, while others grieve. Simply being aware of and respecting each other’s feelings about this transition is a great start.
  • Challenging boundaries: Some families notice that their student may be challenging more; curfews, privileges, family plans, etc. This is often the student’s anticipation of life “on their own.” It’s helpful to use this opportunity to begin exploring the boundaries you set for your student in high school and determine what you're willing to change. While they still live in your home, it's a good time to start preparing them for the "freedom" of living on their own. Compromise is key. This is a great way to demonstrate to your student that you trust them and can give you a sense of how they’ll manage while at college.
  • Family time: often parents and guardians share their students anxiety/sadness/excitement about college and find themselves reminiscing about fun family activities and traditions. While your student is preparing to leave the family, they're also going to be leaving their friends. It’s normal for them to want to spend time with friends and significant others. To avoid hurt feelings, set aside "family time," whether a vacation, weekly family dinner or even weekly college shopping!
  • Responsibility and communication: One of the greatest changes for parents and guardians is the change in communication. Since pre-K your student's school has directed communications to you. At the university level, we will be directing our communications to the student. This change necessitates more responsibility from your student. Set clear expectations with your student about what University communication you expect to be notified of promptly (tuition, deadlines, bills, grades, etc.) and which they can choose not to share with you. Establishing a new communication pattern with your emerging adult and holding them to a higher level of responsibility will make them more successful through their college experience.

Finally, give yourself a pat on the back – your student has successfully graduated from high school and has been admitted to a highly selective college. Now you can sit back and watch all of your hard work in action!

Last Updated: 7/18/14