Adjusting to College: For Parents and Students

Courtesy of Elite Daily

Courtesy of Elite Daily

Students aren’t the only ones who will be facing an adjustment period in the fall. Parents will need to adapt to the change, and for many, an empty nest. To make the adjustment period tolerable for both parties, parents and students should follow these simple guidelines:


Stay in touch
Your parents need to know you’re ok. That doesn’t mean you have to text or call every day, but it does mean that you should communicate with them on a regular basis. Your commitment to doing this will relieve their angst and stress and allow you to enjoy your freedom.

Make friends
College will be more fun and easier to adjust to if you make friends. Start with those you meet at orientation, then your roommate, and finally your classmates. Remember that the entire freshman class is in the same boat as you: in a new environment and seeking new friends.

Get involved
Find something that interests you and get involved. Colleges offer numerous opportunities for you to explore interests and determine if they are a good fit for you. If you aren’t into Greek life, that’s not a problem. Consider participating in intramural sports. Go to the activities building and look at all the club postings to find one that interests you.


Loosen the reins
It’s time to let your student spread their wings and use all that great wisdom you have taught them over the years. Don’t text constantly, email all the time, nag them about their classes, or call their cellphone. Set up a time when you can talk every week and let them know that you trust them to be responsible (even if you are terrified!).

Find other interests
Your child has consumed your life for the last 18 years. Although it may be hard at first and you might feel like you’re aimless and unfocused, don’t wallow in that feeling. Start yoga classes, take up a hobby, travel, get to know your spouse again, and enjoy the freedom.

Visit during parents weekend
If the college is within driving distance, resist the desire to visit them often. They need to know you are there, but they don’t need you checking up on them all the time. Their weekends will be busy with friends; they certainly don’t need to be entertaining parents. That’s why colleges have set up Parents Weekend (usually in October) to give parents and students an opportunity to reconnect.

The relationships will change as the child becomes more independent and the parent attempts to let go of some of the control they have had for the past 18 years. It requires flexibility on both parts and a willingness to accept change.

About the Author: 

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parents Countdown to College Coach blog offers timely college tips for parents and provides parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze. She is a regular contributor as a college expert on iGrad, Galtime, Unigo Expert Network, StudentAdvisor and College Money Insider.