Tips For Parents Of College Freshmen | Generations College
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Tips For Parents Of College Freshmen

Friday, August 20, 2021

If your child is leaving soon for college and you’re riding an emotional roller-coaster, know that those feelings are normal. Your child is likely experiencing a range of emotions, too. After all, transitioning from high school to college comes with major life changes in most cases.

Preparing yourself and your student for the transition, and planning to avoid potential pitfalls, can provide needed support for your child as he or she moves to this next stage of life. Being proactive can also help ease the transition for parents.

Here are some words of wisdom for parents of college freshmen:

  • Discuss financial expectations with your child. Explore and plan for college expenses, including tuition and fees, room and board, living expenses, etc. Encourage your child to investigate and apply for available scholarships and financial aid to help make college more affordable.

In addition, discuss budgeting for expenses and clarify whether you will be providing ongoing financial support during the school year so your child knows what to expect. If you intend to send funds periodically, plan so you both understand how such transfers will occur (i.e., mailing a check or using an online service to quickly transfer funds).

  • Try not to pressure your child to spend time with you. The summer leading to freshman year of college is usually a busy time for college-bound students. Many work part time or full time and want to spend their non-working hours with their high school friends, before going their separate ways in the fall.

Although it can be difficult, try to give your child the freedom to spend this time with friends rather than pressuring him or her to hang out with you. These summer months can help you get used to your child being away from home, making the transition a little easier.

  • Make a communication plan. Here’s another top tip for parents of college freshmen: Discuss how often, and how, you will communicate during the school year. Some families plan weekly phone calls or video chats, while others take an ad-hoc approach, texting periodically or using messaging features on their child’s social media platform of choice. Whatever you and your child decide, understand that flexibility may be needed at times. A scheduled family phone call during finals week may have to take the back burner to studying.
  • Attend parent orientation programs. If your child’s college offers a parent program on move-in day, take advantage of it. These programs are designed to help ease the college transition for parents and can give you a sense of comfort as you learn more about what your child can expect to experience at college over the course of freshman year.
  • Help your child get moved in, but don’t hover. Speaking of move-in day, most parents like to help their kids move into and organize their dorm rooms. If you do so, understand that when your child is settled in his or her room, it’s time for you to leave. Your son or daughter needs this time to get to know his or her roommate/classmates and to begin the college experience as a young adult, rather than as your child. It can be difficult to walk away from that dorm room, but doing so is good for both of you.
  • Help your student take ownership of his or her academic success. For many parents of high schoolers, checking assignments and grades on the school district’s parent portal is a normal occurrence. When your child transitions to college, you will not have this insight into his or her academic progress. If your child grants you access to his or her grades, you may be able to see midterm and final grades, but you will not have the ongoing updates you may have gotten used to over the years.

It’s OK to set expectations together with your child for his or her grades — especially if his or her scholarship aid depends on maintaining a certain GPA. However, ultimately, your child needs to take ownership of his or her success. Encourage your son or daughter to do so, reminding him or her of tutoring and other student support opportunities.

  • Be there to offer support. Finally, remember that, just as your child’s transition from high school to college may be stressful for you, it’s also a major life event for your son or daughter. Be there to support your child as needed, but give your son or daughter room to spread his or her wings as a college student. Sending cards in the mail or putting together care packages with snacks/treats and handwritten notes from home can be a fun way to surprise your child and show you care.

Of course, some of this advice for parents of college freshmen may be more applicable in your situation than other tips. For example, if your child is planning to live at home and attend online classes, advice about helping him or her get accustomed to a new living space will not apply.

Regardless of your circumstances, offering support while giving your child room to explore this new chapter of young adulthood is important. Doing so can help you both through this transitional stage. Generations College offers several exciting associate degree programs on our campus in the heart of Chicago, as well as accredited online degree opportunities. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule your visit to our campus!