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- Tips for Parents of First-Time College Students
A significant milestone in a student’s life is moving away for college for the first time. And while your recent high school graduate is daydreaming about college life, you as a parent might dread being apart after all these years of raising them. Indeed, this adjustment impacts the entire family dynamic, not just the students.
Every family member is affected in some way, and no matter how well-prepared you believe you may be, it won’t be simple. Here is some advice for parents of first-time college students we have prepared to help you and help your child with this transition.
Tips for Parents of First-Time College Students
There are typically two ways parents react to their kids leaving for college; they are either terribly nervous or too excited to turn the extra room into an in-house gym.
And while both reactions are a way to cope with their new college student not being around as often, the following tips will help make the transition for both of you a bit smoother.
Discuss finances ahead of time
To build momentum for later on, an important issue to tackle ahead of time is finances. Before your student leaves for college, go over their financial expectations. Establish clear guidelines for who will pay for what expenses and assist them in creating an accountable monthly spending budget.
Since college is not free, first-year students must understand how to manage their money. Before leaving, there are many things they need to understand, and you are the best person to impart that knowledge.
If your kid doesn’t already have one, you might consider getting them a student credit card. They can be helpful in an emergency and, when used carefully, start students building a good credit history.
Help them prepare in advance
Most universities will give students a packing list or other materials to help them understand what they can and should bring. However, not everything on the list of “what to bring” is required of you. Preparing in advance is key. Ensure they have everything needed for their dorm room but don’t go overboard. Keep in mind that the kids can always get supplies online or go to a store, which can be an opportunity for them to get used to new responsibilities.
Additionally, tell your child that you wish to teach them many of the tasks you have been doing for them so they can complete them independently. But always ask what they want to know, so they don’t feel pressured.
Help them move
Both students and parents frequently have a good time and experience mixed emotions on move-in day. You don’t want to pass up this chance to help your student settle into their new environment. You may help them start unpacking, transport boxes, or assist them with moving in.
You can point out essential services like the dining hall and health center and ensure they are familiar with the area. In the end, it is great when parents are involved in such processes since it’s a good way to ensure that your child doesn’t feel like they are embarking on this journey alone.
It’s challenging to let go. By the time your student starts college, they will already have developed a moral compass with your assistance over the years. As a result, have faith in the idea that you raised a responsible student that you can rely on to make wise judgments.
Giving your child this space is necessary for them to learn how to live freely and manage life’s challenges independently. They will always be aware that you are only a text or phone call away if a situation gets out of hand.
Stay in touch but don’t overwhelm them
Although talking about talking may seem comical, it’s a crucial topic to cover before your student enters college. Will you designate a specific day and time each week to check in? Will you text instead of call?
Ask open-ended questions that can’t be replied to with a simple “yes” or “no” when you speak to encourage sharing. If it appears that they are not comfortable talking to you about specific topics, encourage them to talk to friends or family members. Ensure that they know you are available to talk about anything without passing judgment.
However, for your student to immerse themselves in college life, you shouldn’t be phoning them every hour. Be willing to inquire about their adjustment, but don’t press the issue.
Give them space
While they depart for college, many students feel closer to their parents then than when they lived at home. Although a parent’s persistent worry is well-intentioned, the intrusive behaviors aren’t helpful to them and frequently cause conflict in the relationship.
Give students the time and space they need to get used to college life and adjust to it. Every other day or so, even a simple text message check-in can let them know you’re thinking of them and are available for support whenever they need it.
Consider starting a catch-up call once a week. In addition to showing that you trust them, you want them to know that you care. And don’t be alarmed if your student doesn’t answer every time you call; they are probably busy juggling their academic and social commitments.
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You and your kids can maintain contact by meeting up on occasion. It can foster opportunities for bonding whether they visit you during a break from school or you visit them when there are fewer activities, as throughout a family weekend.
Making a schedule for visits with your child is crucial. It is essential to consider their wants and preferences. Additionally, dropping by randomly is never a good idea because it could interfere with their academic life.
Give your kids plenty of input when discussing when throughout the first year is appropriate for them. In this manner, they will be delighted to see you when you see them again, making the reunion more significant.
Be supportive and offer encouragement
When things aren’t going well in college, students frequently phone their parents for consolation and to share the news. Tell them you have faith in their abilities to solve any issue. Be accessible, but give them space to resolve issues independently.
Remind them that many people on campus can help them at any time, including professors, staff members, teaching assistants, academic advisers, career services, and other resources.
Send them care packages
Getting care packages is popular among college students. They are reminded of you when they receive delivery and get some much-needed refreshments to get them through long study sessions. Sending your child a care box is a fun way to let them know you are thinking of them.
It’s an opportunity to make their day, especially during times of greater stress. You can even include treats that remind them of home and show them that you’re there to support them, which can help reduce symptoms of homesickness or sadness.
Don’t pressure them to visit home
Although you will undoubtedly miss your child, it is not a good idea to demand that they return home every weekend. Because they are less connected to the university and the campus community, students who attend classes on campus and often return home tend to enjoy less the college experience. Encourage them to stay on campus if they want to return home from college on the weekends frequently.
Motivate them to participate in campus organizations and events to meet other students. Find strategies to combat homesickness and add elements of home comfort to their dorm room.
Designate a “Me” Day
Leaving is difficult—the worry, the dreads, the freak-out. However, sending your child off to college has the advantage of having a set departure date. Plan a brief “me” day to help distract yourself from the difficult farewell. Plan a massage at your preferred spa for the day after the drop-off. Have a dinner date at that restaurant you’ve wanted to try with your spouse. Get your friends together for a drink while congratulating yourself on raising an awesome kid. You deserve it!
While goodbyes are always hard, try to enjoy every moment with your kids. Be there for them, support them through the journey, and remember to treat them like adults. They need to take care of life responsibilities independently, even though, in your eyes, they will always be your babies.