Many college students struggle with the transition from living at home with their families, to the college, dorm life setting. It isn’t just about getting used to eating in the dining halls, rather than eating a home cooked meal, or figuring out how to use industrial sized washing machines. Rather, most of these students are not prepared for the psychological experience of living away from home for the first amount of extended time in their life. Starting at a new school and having to meet new friends is hard, and getting used to being independent out of the blue is even harder. Your child will have to focus on doing well academically, while also balancing a social life and time for self care. While you can support your child from the comfort of your own home when they are at college, the reality is that you will not always be there for them when they might need you. It will be hard for your child to get used to this change, but it will also be hard for you because as a parent, you want to be there to support your child through everything.
Every semester, a handful of students get so stressed out and overwhelmed in this new environment and end up either taking time off from university, transferring to a school closer to home, or dropping out of college as a whole. These students did not know how to handle both the academic and social challenges both at once, in a new setting. Some of these students were the best in their class in high school, all – star athletes, and yet they still found themselves to be so overwhelmed that they were not able to push it out and get through their first year at university. It seems ironic that students who knew what they were doing and succeeded in high school did not thrive in college, but the reality is that it happens all the time to all different kinds of students. College is really hard, and we are telling you this because we want for your child to succeed and we want to be a part of the process of getting your child ready for this new adventure.
While there is no way to know if your child will love college in general, or if the school they chose to attend will be the best fit for him / her, we have some tips that will increase the chances of them doing well in university. You may be scared about your child going off to college but these pieces of advice will allow your child to feel more prepared for this new stage of life, and will help you cope with sending your baby away for the next four years. Don’t worry, you can visit!
- Let your child struggle, and let him / her learn from their failures. Parents always want to protect their child through any hardship they may face, but the reality is that you will not always be there for your child in college. You will not always be there to shield your child from upcoming challenges, and you will definitely not always be there to offer a shoulder to cry on. We all get knocked down and face bad moments. We learn from those moments because they are the ones that make us stronger and make us realize what is important. As hard as failing it is, it will make your child develop a better sense of him/ herself. When your child is in college, you won’t always be there to ensure that your child won’t fail. Let your child figure out his / her own issues and problems. Jumping over hurdles is a part of life and college is the best time to learn how to deal and go through with life. You can’t and won’t always be there to bail your child out or make excuses to protect them.
- Support your child – after all, you are the one who knows what it looks like to see your child fail more than anyone else. Does your child have strong and effective coping strategies? Some parents advice their children to take easier classes, because they want to be sure that they aren’t overwhelmed with stress and anxiety. However, we have a different take on this one. We recommend that you push your child to take hard classes in high school so that he / she learns to deal with this kind of stress before going to college where there is even more academic pressure. Your child will learn from failing or from having a hard time doing well in a class, which is more valuable than doing well in every single class because they are easy. The coping skills your child will develop from these tough classes will stick with him / her for the rest of their life, and most importantly, in college.
Overall, don’t worry too much. Your child has done the work to get into college, and is bright and will develop independence. As long as you are watching out for your child, you are doing the best you can. Keep your eyes open and be there to support your child, but also remember that college is the time for your child to develop the skills to deal with his / her own issues and get through hard moments without you constantly being there. It is hard to balance giving your child space, while still being there to offer support, but this is also a learning experience for you. It will be incredibly beneficial to your child if you can learn to be there, even when you’re not really there.