Parenting a New College Student

Your son/daughter is a young adult entering an independent living environment in which he/she will be responsible for his/her own structure and lifestyle. He/she will need to seek out appropriate resources on his/her own.

Your son/daughter will be facing:

  • More free time — need to be organized, manage time, set priorities
  • College level expectation of work — critical thinking, more work outside of class
  • Courses not meeting everyday
  • Varying teaching styles of professors
  • Following a curriculum and making decisions about what course to take
  • Figuring out how to fit in — fraternity or sorority life? Clubs and organizations? Athletics?
  • Different sleep schedules
  • Living in close quarters with roommate
  • Values being challenged
  • Managing finances
  • Maintaining health and wellness
  • Developing, managing, and maintaining old and new relationships

Parents are very important!

  • You instilled values
  • You support your student morally, financially (for most), and emotionally
  • You know your student better than anyone else

Challenge of being a college parent:

  • Feelings of separation and loss
  • Change in the family routine/patterns
  • Financial concerns
  • Anxiety about student's adjustment to college
  • Knowing when to let the student take responsibility
  • Letting the student take responsibility
  • Dealing with change of student's attitude, independence, anxiety, stress
  • Creating new at home expectations — curfew and chores during break?
  • Letting go but still being there

Suggestions on ways to support your student:

  • Keep lines of communication open! Ask him about life. Ask SPECIFIC questions about academics! — "What did you make on your Math test?" rather than "How are things going?"
  • Refer him/her to resources on campus
  • Encourage him/her to get involved
  • Focus on his/her strengths especially in times of weakness — from 1st day to exams
  • Keep positive
  • Set reasonable expectations across the board
  • Keep stability on the home front
  • Empower him/her! Let him/her have the responsibility

Source: Hampden-Sydney College

Contact Us

Personal Counseling Center
Campus location: Marguerite Hall, 1st FL
Office Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM
Evening Hours by Appointment
Phone: (716) 829-7819

Kim Zittel, LMHC, NCC
Director, Personal Counseling Center
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
National Certified Counselor

Erin M. Moss, MA, LMHC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Isabel Molina, APRN BC
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


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