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5 Tips For Parents Of Freshman University Students

August 2, 2018

It’s not easy watching your kids go off to university but now if the time they need support. Take steps to ensure you’re helping them with this big life event.

As we enter the beginning of August, the back-to-school thinking begins. Of course, for many young students, this year will mark a significant transition as they head to their first year of university. Many teens will be thinking about what lies ahead in their freshman year. But they won’t be the only ones losing sleep and stressing about this big moment. Parents have no doubt been regarding this time for years in a mixture of pride and dread. It’s a scary thing having to watch your child go off to start their adult lives and for some parents this might be the first time they’ve had to deal with this moment. It can be hard to navigate the tricky situation of remaining a protective parent and allowing your child to make their own path. So if you’re a first-time parent getting ready to send your child off to school, here are a few helpful tips for how to handle the moment.

Allow them to settle.

One of the hardest moments as a parent will be saying goodbye and leaving that dorm room for the first time. You’ll just wish your child was a little toddler again and you could just take them back home with you. Of course, deep down you also want you child to grow and are excited for them to experience their next steps. That’s why giving them some space for the first little while is very important. If the university is close by, avoid stopping in to see how they are doing. They need to be able to become accustom to this new way of life. Having their parent is always there means they can’t settle. They may want to come home and visit quickly (homesickness can set in early) but try not to give them the option. Keep them at the school in the first month so they can begin to shape a normal routine and life in this new place.

Let them figure things out on their own.

Similarly, parents always want to be there to solve their child’s problems. It’s understandable and, for so much of the child’s life, it’s expected. When they move on to university, it presents an opportunity for them to take on more responsibility for themselves. This is especially true for their school work. Too often you see parents of university kids picking their child’s classes, speaking to professors and helping with assignments. That time is done and your child needs to take their education into their own hands. They may struggle but the experience is an important learning process as well. Which brings us to the next point…

Be realistic about the grades.

University is hard. If you’ve gone yourself, you know that the workload and the complexity of the work is at a much higher level than when you were a high school student. Even if your child was in the top of their class in high school, don’t expect they will have the same success in university. It is truly a different beast and they need some time to get a handle on things. Yes, they should be doing the work and attending class, but have an open mind when you see that first set of grades.

Cool it on the Major.

As much as university is a great social learning experience for your child, it’s only natural as a parent that you remain focused on the educational aspects. However, that doesn’t mean that your child can’t do a little exploring in terms of their studies. Don’t give your child the idea that picking a Major is a critical decision that must be made immediately. There’s absolutely wrong nor unusual about exploring their options in the first year. Jumping into a path they are unsure of is never a good strategy. Getting a sense of different options can help genuine interests to grow.

Adjust to not having them at home.

In the end, it’s not just your child that has to deal with these changes. As a parent, it can feel quite unusual having a child living away from home. It can be especially dramatic if it is your only child. You need to find ways of dealing with the change in the household. Of course, your child will be back often so changing their room is not a good idea, but you can begin to establish a routine without having them around that will help to make it feel more normal and allow you to be a little more comfortable with the new arrangements.


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