Tips for the Transition

Starting college or transferring to a new college is a major event for students and parents. If you’ve already had a student attend college you’re probably a pro at this, but if this is your first student that is attending college we have a few tips for you: 

You may deal with… separation issues:

  • Accepting your student’s increasing independence.
  • Adjusting to your child living away or traveling from home.
  • Your student may be less willing to discuss the details of their life or may want to spend more time alone. This is normal.
  • Allow your student privacy, but make it clear that you are available to talk.
  • When your student is ready to talk to you, be available and listen. Sometimes they may just need to vent. Sometimes they may have a problem to work out. You can help find solutions, but you don’t have to solve the problem. 

Changes in your relationship with your student

Your child is becoming an adult. Though you are still the parent, the relationship with your child is becoming adult to adult.

Helpful skills to know before starting college...

  • Money management. Be clear about your financial limits, including what you can and cannot contribute.
  • Make sure your student knows how to: budget money, write a check, pay bills, use an ATM machine, and use a credit or debit card responsibly.
  • Consider using a debit card so your student will not incur high credit card bills.

Basic tasks your student should know how to do:

  • Laundry, cleaning, and cooking basic meals.
  • Reading a street and subway map.

Time management

It is likely that your student may work part-time or full-time while attending college. Help them develop a schedule to keep on top of all their coursework. If they struggle talk to them about using the resources on campus available to them.

Keeping in touch and helping deal with homesickness…

  • It is important to clearly convey that you are available to your student.
  • Arrange a regular time to talk. Discussions don’t need to be lengthy. A simple, “I love and miss you” may be enough. (Checking in via email or text may be the easiest way to go!)
  • Send care packages. Little things like homemade or favorite treats with short notes mean a lot.

Dealing with missing your student…

You may have a hard time adjusting to your student not being around. A student leaving the home is a significant event in the life of a family. Some ways to deal with the “empty nest syndrome” are: Spend time with your family and friends, take a class at a local college, volunteer, start a new hobby or join a club, read those books you’ve had on your list, and begin an exercise routine (make sure you consult with your doctor first).

When your student returns home...

Set guidelines that respect both your student’s independence and your house rules when your student visits or comes back home for vacations. Some issues that may come up include: Your student expecting the same freedom as they had at school, renegotiating curfews, respecting your student’s “space” and privacy, and understanding your student’s independence.

Offer support while fostering independence. We know that when your student is in distress your first instinct may be to jump in and solve the problem but we ask that you try to let your student solve the problem on their own first. 

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