Here then, are a few things to keep in mind, especially for those sending a child off to college for the first time:
- There is bound to be some grumpiness or mood swings as your child realizes they are really leaving home and their friends (soon). Students with regular anxiety should have some meetings set up with a counselor before they leave and plan ahead for appointments once at campus.
- Do not save all the information you want to pass along until the day you bring them to campus – none of it will register.
- There will now be many things out of your control. You’ll need to get used to that.
- You are now in more of a “consultant role” as opposed to being on board to solve every problem. Practice saying, “I’m sorry to hear that, what do you plan to do about it?” Still, be on the lookout and get involved if your child sounds depressed or overly anxious on an ongoing basis.
- It is normal for your child to call you when they are homesick or physically sick. They tend not to call as much when things are going well. I do recommend that you set up a regular interval when you plan to have a weekly call. (Face Time, Skype or Zoom all work well for video calls.)
- Encourage patience as it can take quite a while to settle in academically and socially. Your child will not feel as comfortable at school as they did at home, even after a few weeks. They need to expect to feel uncomfortable as they get settled.
- Remind your child that the best time to reach out and make friends is during the first weeks of school when others are also looking for connections. Encourage them to join an activity. They should not stay hidden in their dorm room!
- Regarding the previous suggestion, make sure your student knows that the most common time for students to be sexually assaulted is in the first few weeks of freshman year. It’s important to set up a buddy system with friends and to never allow themselves to get into a situation that doesn’t feel safe.
- Remind students that buying or selling prescription medication is against the law and can get them kicked off campus. Students taking prescribed meds may want to use a small safe.
- Talk to your child about using the academic support services right from the beginning – transition to college workshops, tutoring as needed, writing center, etc. You are paying for these as part of tuition and they really do help.
- Time management is often a problem due to all the hours outside of class where students need to manage their time. Encourage them to treat 9am to 5pm as the work day, and to be fully productive during those hours.
- Encourage your child to find a few adults / older students on campus that they can turn to for advice and support when things are not going well (professor, advisor, club leader, coach, RA, peer mentor, etc.).
- Help your child understand that getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and their eating / drinking habits will greatly contribute to how efficient they are with their school work. (Some of these tips will be better received from an older student instead of you as a parent!)
- Realize that this is a big change for you as a parent, especially if you will no longer have any kids living at home. Consider planning some additional social activities in the weeks after your child leaves home. This is a good time to sign up for that cooking or photography class you have always wanted to try.
I wish you and your student all the best for a smooth and successful transition this fall!