Parenting a college freshman can feel stressful. But with a few great parenting tactics, you can provide a smooth transition to college life, and help create the best experience possible for your son or daughter.
Top Tips for Parenting College Freshman
Parenting Tip: Freshman should be aware of their surroundings
Ensure your freshman has taken the opportunity to become familiar with their new living areas and campus as soon as they can. It is important to do this both during daytime hours and evening hours. Trying to find your way around, after a 9pm study lab in the dark, in an unfamiliar area, is not advisable. No matter how safe the campus appears to be.
Parenting Tip: Know what campus health care services available
Most schools have on-campus clinics available to their students. Typically, they are able to treat minor cuts or abrasions, colds or viral infections, and other basic non-life-threatening needs. Your freshman should know how to make an appointment or access services.
In the instance no on campus medical services are available, your freshman should know how to find a provider in their area and make an appointment. Ensure they know what to bring to these appointments in advance. Typically, an ID card and their insurance card is required.
Many colleges and universities now offer mental health services as well. Know beforehand what your son or daughter’s school has available to them. Transitioning away from home for the first time brings with it uncertainties and trials your freshman has likely not yet experienced. Be sure they have a place to go when they may need help managing their mental health or need support or tools to deal with stressors.
The transition to college life can bring on sudden anxiety or depression. We offer some helpful tools for your freshman here.
Parenting Tip: How to handle drinking at parties and hazing
If you haven’t already talked about drinking and hazing, it’s not too late, and is certainly necessary. Help your son or daughter determine realistic ways they can deal with drinking- will they partake, will they not? How will the keep their drinks safe and untampered with? How will they be getting to and from an event safely?
To think we are going to keep our college aged young adults from experimenting with alcohol is somewhat unrealistic. But we can open the lines of communication on this topic, if we haven’t done so already.
Additional resource on teen alcohol and drug use.
Speak to your son or daughter about hazing. Do they know their boundaries? Are they clear on these? Do they know when and how to walk away from something that jeopardizes them physically or mentally? Most universities have a hazing hotline or provide formalized course of actions against hazing. Be sure you, your son/daughter have a clear understanding of not only their boundaries, but their college policy and procedures in regard to hazing.
Parenting Tip: What Consent is and how to ensure you have it
Most parents want to protect their children from alcohol/drug use and focus on those topics with their college aged children. However, we also need to keep them safe in regard to sex. Talking about sex can be very different for families, as each family’s ideas on sex; when to have it and how to protect yourself, vary.
Here, we want to specifically address consent.
Your son or daughter needs to have a clear understanding of consent. No means no. Not later, not maybe, not bring me another drink. No means “No – I don’t want to have sex with you”.
When you have consent, or “Yes, I want to have sex with you”, you must ensure you have continuous consent. Beginning, middle and end consent. If your partner appears intoxicated and perhaps they didn’t before, consent ends. If your partner falls asleep, consent ends. If your partner suddenly changes their mind, consent ends.
Parenting Tip: What tutoring resources are available
A great idea is to have your son or daughter research what resources are available to them for tutoring or studying. Most campuses offer tutoring centers or learning resource centers. Be sure your child knows where they are, how to get them, when they are open, and how to access any other resource available to them through these services.
Additionally, they should know what their professor hours are for meeting with students. Encourage them to take advantage of these hours to gain a better understanding of expectations or to talk about specific course work they may need some additional guidance on.
Often, students flounder because they don’t think they can speak to their professor or feel like the learning center is for them. These resources are indeed for the betterment of all students. Encourage them to access and utilize them.
Parenting Tip: Game Plan to execute when you get homesick
Likely your son or daughter will be the first to say they can’t wait to get out of the house. That usually lasts after the thrill of eating take out, or new endless trips to the cafeteria buffet ends. Once they get somewhat settled, it isn’t uncommon for homesickness to creep in.
Talk about what the plan could be to deal with this. Will you schedule a facetime call? Have a you set a date that you can look forward to that your family will be together again? Does your son or daughter have friends on campus already? If not, what is their plan to make friends or become more engaged.
All students, even our introverted children, will require a network of support. Talk early about what that can be. Encourage them to find something to do on campus to network and connect with others. Whether that is a study group, a campus improvement group, or an intramural sport, there are typically a variety of student groups to consider joining.
Sending your young adult off to school and away from home brings with it many emotions and opportunities for growth, both for the parent and the child. These strategies will help them feel better prepared and help you to feel somewhat comforted while they are away.
Good Luck families, you can do this!
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To learn more, visit us at Pace Counseling Group or call (210) 481-3727.