The transition to becoming a college parent isn’t sudden. You’ve been working on it through all of those months of SAT prep, college visits, essay writing, financial aid discussions, applications, acceptances and rejections, and finally, the DECISION. But as you begin to think about the reality of your new situation, it’s hard to know where to begin.
Let’s begin by thinking about who this new college student is, and what your role in this college experience might be.
Who is this College Student?
This college student is the son or daughter you’ve raised.
First and foremost, this student heading off on this grand and scary adventure called college, is the son or daughter you raised. Although it sometimes feels as though you may not know or understand their behavior, you’ve had many years to instill important values and teach life lessons. Your student will take to college the tool chest of lessons, experiences and values you’ve given them. Trust your student. Trust the years you’ve spent with them and the lessons you’ve taught.
This college student has a clean slate.
There is something wonderful about the adventure of beginning college. Your student is a young person with an opportunity to have a clean slate and build a new life. Many of us might welcome the opportunity to have a fresh start. Your student may have spent many years in the same area, school, or neighborhood. Everyone knows them. Your family may have connections in town, your student may have siblings ahead or behind them, they may be known as an excellent student, an athlete, a loner, or a class leader. There is something safe in this knowledge, but also something restricting.
At college your student will have a fresh start. They will have an opportunity for a re-creation of who they are and who they want to be This can be a wonderful, and an intimidating prospect. There’s no reputation to fall back on, but there’s also no history clouding your student’s opportunities. Some students thrive on the experience of this fresh start and some are taken by surprise. As parents, it is important for us to recognize that this is a stressful time. Encourage your student to take advantage of the clean slate that they will have to invent the self they want to be.