August can be an exciting and sometimes difficult month for both parents and young adult children. For college students, this time of year can entail stocking up on dorm room supplies, navigating a new town and being away from family and friends for the first time. For parents, this time can also be exciting, nerve-racking and overwhelming. Here are some tips to keep in mind when either you or a loved one is going away to college for the first time:
- Expect Ups and Downs: Leaving home for the first time is a big rollercoaster of emotions! There will be plenty of excitement and happiness and perhaps some feelings of sadness and loneliness at times. For students, be sure to stay in contact with friends and family from home in addition to making new friends at school. Parents should also talk to close friends and family about their experiences during this time.
- Get Involved: The biggest regret that most people have about college is not getting involved in more things on campus. Most colleges have a large variety of clubs, sports and activities to get involved in which is a great way to make new friends and stay busy. Parents can also get involved by attending family visit days as well as meeting other parents who are also experiencing a child leaving home for the first time.
- Set Boundaries: Leaving home for the first time can be difficult to navigate. Children should talk to their parents about what to expect when they go away to school in terms of staying in contact with family. For example, what times of day work best for phone calls? How many times a week? This is important in order to stay in contact and utilize supports without either the child or parent overstepping boundaries or calling too much, or assuming the other person is fine and not calling at all.
- Get Into a Routine: Going to class, studying, spending time with friends, sleeping and extracurricular activities can be a lot to keep track of. For students it will be important to get in the routine of setting good habits for time management and prioritizing responsibilities. Parents should also be patient with their children as this a great learning experience that may take some time to navigate but can promote increased independence.
By: Melissa Major, MHC