4 Essential Tips for a Healthy and Successful Transition to College

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The transition to college is one of the most significant (and likely the biggest to date) in a young person’s life.

Although your child may seem ultra confident about their future, keep in mind that they’re still not quite an adult. Plenty of fears, worries, and thoughts are probably whirling around in their minds just like when they were younger.

To help your child embrace a successful transition, it’s important to understand this childlike mindset. Of course, they’re about to make an enormous leap into adulthood, but they’re not there yet.

With your support, however, this leap can be a healthy transition for them. Here are a few tips on how you can help.

1. Talk with Them About Expectations

Sometimes, parents assume that they know what their college-age children are thinking. After all, they’ve only logged 18 years getting to know each other.

Before the transition to college, though, take the time to let your child speak freely. Encourage them to tell you about what they expect from the college experience. Get as detailed as discussing daily activities, friendships, and even domestic duties.

This particular transition will introduce a lot of “firsts” to your child. Be the listening ear for them to express any fears, apprehensions, or random thoughts. The support and validation you can give will be invaluable, setting them up for a healthy transition.

2. Empower Them with Important Skills

As well as hearing them out as they talk about their expectations, empower them with your life experience. It doesn’t even matter if you had the traditional college experience, you are still fully equipped with a degree from the School of Hard Knocks.

Talk with them about their role in a professor/student relationship, for example, and how it might differ from any teacher/student relationship they’ve had before. Brainstorm with them the resources that will come in handy to ensure their success—academic and otherwise.

These are the sorts of things often forgotten in the transition to college. Yet, they are usually what create the biggest hiccups in the first year at college.

3. Give Them Space

In the world of instant gratification and split-second digital communication, avoid being that hovering parent. Sure, you didn’t helicopter over them as they went down the playground slide. But you could now bombard them with texts or phone calls, constantly “checking in” with them.

Although this may be the hardest part of their transition to college, it’s vital to give them space to learn and grow. This transition is a major chance for your child to taste what trial and error process is all about.

With that said, give them the space to succeed and the space to fail. Most importantly, give them the space to try. No hovering, please.

4. Allow for Plenty of Bumps in the Road

As with any successful transition, there will undoubtedly be bumps in the road. This could mean that things aren’t what your child expected and they’re having a hard time adjusting. Or it might mean that they are more homesick than they thought they would be.

No matter what bumps your child encounters, be sure to offer your support. This isn’t exactly a kicking baby bird out of the nest to crash and burn situation—and yet, it is similar. Mama bird might let her baby crash but definitely not burn.

Be your child’s cheerleading, the one in their corner 24/7. Life has more bumps than most people expect, so it makes perfect sense that the transition to college would as well. Jumping hurdles and scaling roadblocks are all part of this process.

For more support as you parent a teenager, please reach out to me today. Or click HERE to learn more about my teen counseling services.

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