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-P
Mental Health Counselor

Isabel Molina, APRN BC
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner


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