Tips for Helping Your College Freshman Adjust

Jul 26, 2019 by

Sending your child off to college is an emotional event for you both. Feelings of excitement and thoughts of a bright future are mixed with nerves and anxiety over the unknown. Will their course load be too much? How will they get along with their roommate? Will they get homesick? These are all normal, healthy concerns for both parents and college freshmen to have. But the most important thing is knowing how to handle them and help support your child’s first college experience. Keep reading to discover tips on helping your freshman adjust to college life and keep them on the right track for success.

Don’t Dwell on How Much You Miss Them

Let’s face it. You’re going to miss your child when they leave for college. Despite all the dirty laundry, forever empty refrigerator, and countless arguments over school work and curfews, your house won’t be the same once they’re gone. But regardless of how much you’re going to miss your recent grad, you need to keep your emotions in check! It’s no secret that children feed off their parents emotions. If you’re calm, cool and collected, they will be too. If you start freaking out and sobbing at drop-off day, you’re going to have a scared, nervous teen on your hands. It’s normal and healthy to miss your child once you send them off to college but be sure you don’t let them know just how much they’re absence will be noticed. Focus on the exciting new adventure they’re embarking on. Encourage them to get involved in clubs and groups on campus. You can even offer them tips for managing their time. Let them know you’re there for them when they need you but that the college experience is about exploring, gaining independence, and finding themselves. Leave the tissues and the tears for the car ride home.

Ask Questions (But Not Too Many)

Once you leave your child at school, you’re sure to be in constant communication. Just be sure not to suffocate them or ask too many prying questions. By constantly calling to check on them, you’re giving your new freshman signs that you don’t trust them and that you’re worried about them. Sometimes, lack of communication means you have faith and confidence in their success. Check in periodically but not obsessively. When you and your child are talking, ask simple, superficial questions about things like what they ate for breakfast and i they did their laundry. Avoid dwelling on major life questions that will make your teen doubt their abilities or become homesick. Keep conversations short and simple. But always let your student know that you’re there for support or help if they need you. 

Send Something for Them to Remember You By

Just because you can’t be with your child 24/7, doesn’t mean you can’t send along some items for them to remember you by. The best way to send a little piece of yourself with your recent grad is using pictures. With today’s advancements in technology, it’s never been easier to keep in touch using photographs and social media. But sometimes, a good, old-fashioned photo frame works best. Place a favorite family photo in a frame that matches your teens dorm decor. They can keep it by their bedside or remove the picture and hang it on a corkboard on the wall. You can also purchase collage blankets, calendars, and other photo items that are both functional and nostalgic. 

Send a Care Package

Can’t visit your teen as much as you’d like? Or perhaps they’re too embarrassed to display family photos around their dorm room. No problem! You can easily send a care package filled with all the things your student loves and needs. Alternate between sending fun goodies and more practical items. A care package filled with cheap and easy snacks is always a fan favorite. Opt for things like Ramen noodles, instant macaroni and cheese, and granola bars. Throw in some healthy items like instant oatmeal and trail mix. Does your teen enjoy coffee, tea, or hot chocolate? Throw a few envelopes for good measure. In your next package add some essential toiletries, laundry items, and other necessities that your student is sure to run out of. As a parent, you have an incessant need to take care of your child, no matter how far they travel. Sending care packages allows you to do just that and will offer your student a sense of comfort and security. 

Encourage Them to Have Fun

College isn’t all about fun and games. But it’s also not about studying so hard that your child causes themselves extreme stress and anxiety. Help your freshman enjoy their entire college experience but encouraging them to let loose and have some fun — in moderation. Stress the importance of taking care of their academic duties first. They should make time for studying, homework, volunteering, and a part-time job if possible. But once all of their obligations are met, encourage them to relax and have fun! Without this balance, your teen is sure to burnout. The college years are some of the best years of most young adult’s lives. And while they’ll need to spend plenty of time in the classroom and library, the experience will pass them by if their nose is constantly in the books. Be sure to discuss having safe, legal fun that doesn’t put them or anyone else in harm’s way. 

College is a big adjustment, for both parents and students. As the parent, it’s your job to put on a brave face and show your child there’s nothing to fear. The world is their oyster and college is just the beginning of a long, successful future. Help them balance their school work and social lives. Offer them support and encouragement without suffocating them. And most importantly, don’t project your fears and worries on them. Before you know it, you’ll have a college graduate on your hands and that shy, anxious freshman will be a thing of the past! 

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