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Leaving for College

After a stressful year of completing college applications and waiting for admission decisions, students and parents are relieved to make a final choice and send the enrollment deposit. But while the anxiety about getting into college is over, the emotional roller coaster continues as the family prepares for the student to leave.

In these last weeks, before you go off to college, there will be times when you can’t wait to get away from your family and times when you can’t imagine leaving home. Going to college is a big deal, and it’s normal to feel conflicted. This is the most exciting thing you’ve ever done and the scariest thing you’ve ever done.

You’re about to join a new community where you’ll learn much about yourself and the world. You’ll meet hundreds of new people in a matter of weeks, and that can be exhilarating. The price for embarking on this grand journey is leaving everything and everyone you know. How could you not feel some fear? It may help to know you’re not alone. Most students worry about making friends, living with a roommate, choosing a major and career, and living far from home. Many schools offer first-year programs that continue after orientation to help students adjust to college life.

If you’re a parent, you probably have con- conflicting feelings - pride in your child’s ac- accomplishment, excitement about his or her future, and sadness at the thought of being left. Many parents also worry about how their child will manage at college. In a time of economic uncertainty, when college costs often exceed $200,000, parents may worry about a child choosing a major that will lead to a good job, and students can feel pressure to make this considerable investment pay off.

But college is a time when students experiment. They study subjects that weren’t available in high school, try different activities, and form new relationships. Trusting that your child will make good choices can be challenging, but making mistakes is part of the learning process. A student who doesn’t start her term paper until the day before it is due will have a very stressful 24 hours and may even receive a disappointing grade, but she is not likely to do that again.

For students who are struggling academically or socially, many resources on campus can help. One of the best ways for parents to be supportive is by encouraging their child to take advantage of the college's tutoring, academic and personal counseling offered.

While it’s normal for students to feel nervous about starting college, it’s a wonderful opportunity for a fresh start. This is your chance to become the person you want to be. Sure, it can be scary, but the payoff is pretty great.

And for parents, what could be more gratifying than seeing your child develop a sense of her own identity and become a self-confident, independent young adult?

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by The College Advisor, prepared for our clients and their families.

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