After the high school graduation ceremony is over, yearbooks are signed, and nostalgia is shared, the family focus suddenly shifts to the preparation for college. Once you have reached the finish line of the graduation ceremony, you confront a new race consumed by shopping, packing, and getting ready for off-to-college.
And don’t be surprised that along with the necessary tasks needed to be accomplished, come some unexpected emotions for both the parent and the student.
Ready set go…
Here are a few tips from both Mom and student to help families deal with what can be a busy, emotional, and often, disruptive three months:
- Share the load of responsibilities.
Parents: Your child will be receiving college information, course schedules, dorm application and roommate assignment. Read along with your student. He/she needs to take part!
Students: Take part and share the responsibilities!
You need to be aware of what your college is requesting and what needs to be done to prepare for the move.
2. Know that feelings are normal. Emotions can be tested with the transition to college.
Parents: No doubt you feel excited, sentimental, and overwhelmed entering this new phase. It’s normal. Don’t be surprised if your child seems uncommunicative during this busy time as he/she is going through his/her own fears and questions about the departure.
Don’t be alarmed if your student is spending more time with high school friends, as he/she might be feeling pensive about leaving behind long-time friendships.
Students: Leaving for college means a new environment, new faces, pressures and schedules. It is normal if you feel hesitant about this transition…with change comes fear. Know that this is totally normal and you are not alone with your feelings.
Your desire to be with your close, high school friends will be a priority. Soon all will be departing to new, unfamiliar places. Enjoy time with your friends as you prepare for your departure and don’t forget to schedule some time with your family.
3. Openly discuss the dangers of newfound freedom!
Freedom can bring about temptation and poor judgment. Openly discuss the possible dangers of alcohol, drugs, safety-in-numbers, and finances ahead of time.
Parents: Give some leverage in rules at home if they have been restrictive in the past. Also involve your child with responsible chores such as doing the laundry and budgeting finances – if they have not been involved during high school years.
Students: As nice as it may have been to have Mom and Dad doing some of the every day chores, know that you are soon to be on your own – what you don’t know, be willing to learn!
4. Take part in the College Orientation.
Many colleges have their orientation programs in the summer. This is a great opportunity for parent and child to meet some of the incoming freshmen and their families, as well as to learn the layout of the campus, dorm life, and safety issues.
5. Do a special family activity together before college departure.
If a family vacation or tradition is a summer norm, be sure to keep it on the schedule.
Remember: This is the last summer of home life as it has been. As a family, put some effort into making it a special one to remember.
This advice should put you a few steps ahead as the race begins. Good luck!