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From High School to College

Here are some ways you can help your student transition to college.

  • Ask your student what they hope to accomplish academically during their first year. It’s important that they take the lead in mapping out their education. Ask about their courses instead of making grades the major focus. Ask your child to share with you their academic interests and intellectual pursuits.
  • Expect change. Students will change the way they think and way they look. Some will change their majors and career goals. They need you to stand by them, have patience when they’re uncertain and support them as they chart the course of their lives.
  • If your child is having difficulty acclimating to college, or to life in general, encourage them to use the appropriate free campus resources like the health office, counseling office or career center, or to talk to an advisor or tutor.
  • Be an anchor for your child. It’s important to keep them informed about big and small changes at home, so they can feel secure and remain connected to their family, whether they are living on campus, or just spending a lot of time there.
  • Set up guidelines for when your child should let you know they need help. College students need room to make mistakes and recover on their own, but parents and caregivers need to know before grades slip past the point that recovery will be too challenging. For example, you can tell your child that you expect them to alert you of a low course grade earned after the midterm.

Adjusting to College

It takes time to adjust to unfamiliar situations and new people, and some students take more time than others to adapt to college life. Research shows that students who become involved in college clubs and activities right away have an easier time making connections and transition more easily.

The following is a list of some of the concerns new college students typically have. As a parent, you can help by opening the lines of communication, sharing similar experiences you may have had and letting your child know that these worries are normal. For students who seem particularly anxious, a visit to our Counseling Center may be helpful.

Common Worries of All New Students

  • Fitting in and making new friends
  • Reality of college and fulfilling expectations
  • Time management and procrastination
  • Feeling unprepared for the academic challenge
  • Dealing with high school/long-distance romantic relationships
  • Making good decisions (academically, financially and socially)
  • Learning to deal with alcohol
  • Re-evaluating their identity
  • Feeling connected
  • Study skills and preparing for exams
  • Making use of campus services
  • Approaching professors
  • Illnesses
  • Nutrition
  • Questioning choice of major
  • Stress of final papers, projects and exams
  • End of semester anxiety
  • Final papers, projects and exams
  • Moving out and going home (dorm residents)
  • Reconnecting with friends at home

Common Worries of New Residential Students

  • Homesickness
  • Living with other people
  • Feeling disconnected from the family
  • Managing time, meals, laundry, money, etc.
  • Responsibly managing new independence