Tips for Sending Your Son or Daughter Off To College

  • Published: Thursday, July 1, 2021

Tips for Sending Your Son or Daughter Off To College

Amy Bartels, M.Ed.

Senior year is a whirlwind of activity and it is easy to be caught up in “lasts”.  Nevertheless, for you and your child, there are a whole new set of “firsts” right around the corner.  Excitement, hope, fear, and sadness are just a few of the many emotions parents and teens may experience. While many students thrive in their first year at college, some do not. Some students will go away to school and have a difficult time adjusting. Some will feel enormous pressure to succeed academically. Some will feel overwhelmed and return home.

So while you are in the midst of preparing academically and financially for college, it is also a wise investment to prepare emotionally. 

·         When you are with them during orientation, locate the counseling office and visit it: Stigma about mental health can prevent a student from reaching out for help. Encouraging your child to talk to someone if they experience a decline in their mental health plants the seed that getting help is accepted and even encouraged. Let them know it’s okay to struggle.


·         Don’t try to fix every problem: Practice validating language such as

o   “I see you’re really struggling right now.”

o   “I’m guessing that this is really hard for you.”

o   “I see that thinking about this test tomorrow is making you really anxious.” 

And then let your child deal with the problem knowing that you are there for support and back up.

·         Practice, practice: Find out what areas your child may need more experience and then work to provide those opportunities. 

o   Managing money (pay taxes, credit/debit card, budget, online banking, apply for a loan)

o   Schedule health related appointments

o   Laundry/living space (cleaning, simple maintenance)

o   Meal prep (cooking/grocery shopping)

o   Public transportation/vehicle maintenance

o   Good hygiene/appropriate dress (weather, job interview)

o   Time management (schedule, being on time)

o   Make/answer a phone call

o   Address a letter/visit the post office


·         Help your child establish good self-care:  routines are important for a young adult to learn to manage their own well-being. 

o   consistent sleep patterns

o    good nutrition

o    limiting drugs and alcohol

o    regular exercise


·         Work on planning ahead: Have the ‘what if’ conversations with your child

o   “who would you call if you were feeling lonely or depressed?”

o   “what would you do if you got a bad grade?”

o   “how would you decide if a party/person was safe?”

No one likes to be blindsided.  Thinking and working through possibly stressful scenarios before they occur can help your child develop coping strategies so that they are better equipped if the situation arises.

·         Remember how much you are needed:  Just because your child turns 18 does not mean your role as a parent ends.  They still need you.  They just need you in different ways. 

o   Work together to set expectations for communication. 

o   Phone calls, texts, facetime, zoom.  When? How often?

o   And always… when in doubt, reach out!

Writer: Amy Bartels

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