Support Your Teen’s Transition to College

Peace at Home April 12, 2023 | Stephanie Rondeau

Your teen went through the rigorous college application process. Now they’ve been accepted to school and are getting ready to go. This is when you dust off your hands and send them on their way, right? Not so much. The transition into their freshman year can be a challenging one—for you and for them. A new setting, new friends, new expectations, and a whole lot of independence can be overwhelming. And you may need to figure out how to parent from afar, or think about a new style of parenting altogether. How do we prepare our teens—and ourselves—for this huge life change? 

Start by taking a deep breath. It’s a challenging time for everyone, but it’s also exciting. Your teen will likely experience a whole host of emotions as move-in day approaches. These heightened emotions may continue as they begin to explore their new surroundings and figure out how life works away from home. Consider the following steps to prepare both yourself and your college freshman for this step into adulthood. 

  • Talk about time management. Many freshmen will be shocked that they suddenly have classes for only a few hours a day, and there may be some classes or days that attendance isn’t mandatory. Figuring out how to balance this newfound freedom can be tricky. Have a conversation with your teen ahead of time about managing schedules, setting aside time for schoolwork and recognizing when they might need help with these things. 
  • Talk openly about mental health. While talking about mental health can be challenging for some families, it’s important for your child to be able to recognize when they’re having challenges. This is especially important when away from home and in a new environment. During the first year of college, the multitude of new experiences coupled with changes in self care can lead to increased mental health issues. If you don’t know where to start, consider connecting with Peace At Home experts to guide you toward opening up these conversations with your family before your teen leaves home. 
  • Work on life skills ahead of time. When moving into a dorm or apartment for the first time, simple life skills are just as important as school work when it comes to success. Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping and budgeting—these are all things that many teens have not had to think about before. Once on their own, the uncertainty of these tasks that many of us take for granted can be overwhelming. Consider working on these things while your child still lives in your house. Role playing or creating checklists together may help with this. 
  • Practice taking a step back. This is a time when your teen is learning how to be an independent adult. This doesn’t necessarily mean a totally hands-off approach from parents, but it could mean reevaluating when to step in and when to let them figure things out for themselves. 

The transition to college can be a scary one—for you and your teen. Keep these things in mind in order to help create a safe, open space for your child to communicate with you. This may help ease your fears as well. To learn more about communicating with your teen and helping them get ready for the next step in life, check out our library, Support, Inspire and Connect. And please head over to our calendar to see what exciting live, interactive workshops we have coming up. 

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