Dear Parents, Here’s How to Help Your Child During the College Transition

How can parents help during college transitions

Flickr user bradleypjohnson

Dear Parents,

College transitions aren’t easy, not for your student and not for you either. You spent 18 or so years of your life raising someone, teaching them what is good and what is bad, helping them become the best person they can be. Seeing them leave is one of the hardest things you will have to do.

Avoid taking total control!

Many parents have their children’s future planned by the time they turn 5. That is completely okay. What is not okay is forcing your dreams into your child’s life. You have no idea how many freshmen students start a major based on what they heard while growing up. When a professor asks them why they are studying that specific career, most of the time, someone in the class answers “my parents wanted me to”. And that is probably the saddest answer of all.

Don’t be that type of parent, especially during college transitions. On the contrary, open your children’s minds to new ideas, show them different perspectives of life. Help them understand the pros and cons of the major that they are attracted to. Try not to impose only your point of view or what you like and dislike. Help them realize what they want to do with their lives rather than tell them what “they should do.” Work with them, be a team!

Manage expectations!

Because we grow up surrounded by everyone’s expectations of us, we tend to get stressed easily when we have to pick a major (or choose a college). We think about what we love to do, consider the skills we need in order to do it, and see if we have those skills or not. But even though we may deny it, we also consider our parent’s point of view.

The truth is we all grow up with one goal in our head: to make our parents proud. That goal stays with us during all of our lives, it doesn’t matter if someone is 10, 30, 50, or 70 years old. The thought of making the person who raised you proud is always there. And when we accomplish it, it is one of the most amazing feelings, almost as if we were giving them a little something in return for every tiny thing they have done for us.

Talk about it!

So you, Mom and Dad, know what it is like to live up to your parents’ expectations. At this moment, seeing your child about to start his or her college years may be frightening, but hold on and take a breath. Talk to your son, or your daughter, as much as possible. Try to understand what they are feeling, their fears, their excitements, their uncertainties. Communication is key in helping them transition into this new stage of their lives.

Show support!

As a student, I can assure you, stress is always there. It is your job as a parent to constantly remind your child how strong they are. If you see them freaking out over a paper, or not acting normal because they are consumed by classes, just approach them and talk. They are young, so they may forget that everything that is put in their way is there because they are capable of accomplishing it. Remind them they can do anything, they just have to want it hard enough and work for it non-stop.

Parents are the biggest cheerleaders anyone can have in life. So be that, be a supporter during college transitions. Don’t try to boss your child around the same way you did when they were in kindergarten. It will only stress them out even more. If you give them the needed space and show them they can trust you, they’ll come back to you a thousand times asking for advice. The hard thing to do is to accept your baby is growing up, becoming an adult. But the truth is even though your child is growing up, you’ll always be the person they want to impress and make proud. You just have to be there to push them when they need it, and celebrate with them when they accomplish their goals.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Join thousands of students and parents learning about finding the right college, admissions secrets, scholarships, financial aid, and more.