Did you know? Parents are the #1 influence over their child's educational and career choices!
UMN Crookston wants to help parents support their college students to prepare for and make sound choices and educational decisions.
University freshmen aren't the only ones who may feel a little anxious when they arrive on the University of Minnesota Crookston Campus. Parents face their own uncertainties about how to let go and yet remain involved in their students' lives throughout their college careers. The transition to college can be exciting, and stressful for families. Parents may be unsure what to expect for their students and what the transition means for their families.
Remember that your student’s transition to college is a transition for you as well and can be a stressful experience, especially if they have not lived away from home before. During this important time of transition for the family, many parents put their own feelings and reactions “on hold” while helping their students prepare for university life. However, attending to your own emotional needs will go a long way toward helping everyone feel comfortable with the challenges that college presents.
You may feel a variety of emotions as your student prepares to leave home for the first time. You may feel anxious, anxiety, and excitement that are common during this period of transition. It is also normal to look forward to the relative peace and quiet of having your older son or daughter out of the house. You may be excited to have the place to yourself or to have more time to spend with your spouse and or other children.
Remember that coming to the University is a tremendously important developmental step for your son or daughter toward adulthood. It represents a culmination of 17-18 years of learning. This is the time when your hard work as a parent will show itself as your son or daughter begins to make independent choices. Many parents find that it helps to focus on the fact that providing their son or daughter with this opportunity is a priceless gift. Be proud of yourself!
Here are some ways you can help your student from a distance:
- Stay in touch. Even though your student is experimenting with independent choices, they still need to know that you're there and available to discuss both normal events and difficult issues. Make arrangements to write, call, email, or text on a regular basis. It may be helpful to have a conversation about how often s/he would like you to contact them.
- Be realistic about financial matters. Students should come to college with a fairly detailed plan about who will pay for tuition, books, fees, and room and board, and what the family's expectations are about spending money. Being specific at the outset may help avoid misunderstandings later. Don't forget the costs of social activities, which are an important part of the college experience.
- Be realistic about academic achievement and grades. The University attracts bright, and not every student who excelled academically in high school will be a straight-A student at UMC. Developing and refining the capacity to work independently and consistently, to demonstrate mastery, can be as important as grades, as long as the student meets the basic academic requirements set out by the University. Again, these are choices that each individual student makes, though certainly, it is appropriate to help your student set his or her own long-term goals.
Parents-How to Help Yourself:
- Find a new creative outlet. Many parents find that taking on a new challenge is an excellent way to manage and channel their energy and feelings. Have you ever wanted to travel? Volunteer in your community? Assume a new project or responsibility at work? Write a book? Learn to fly? Bike? Run? Or Make a quilt? Make a list of all the things you intended to do while your son or daughter was growing up, but never had the time to do it. Now is your chance!
- Allow yourself to have emotions. There is little benefit in pretending that you don't feel sad, guilty, relieved, apprehensive, worried, etc. about the transition to UMC. A healthier approach is to discuss your feelings with your family, friends, clergy, or whoever is a source of support for you. Talking with other parents of college-bound students can be particularly helpful.
- Make overall wellness a goal for yourself. During stressful times, it helps to get enough sleep, eat healthy meals regularly, get adequate exercise, and do something that you like. If you are feeling good, you are more likely to have the energy to help your son or daughter and be a good role model.
- Be patient with the transition. It is important to recognize that it will take some time to develop the right balance between your son or daughter's developing need for independence and their simultaneous need for support and guidance. Every person is different in this regard and has different needs, and these needs will almost certainly change over time. In addition, students don't know always know how much independence they can handle or how much support they will actually need. So, be patient, and understand that it will likely take some time for everyone to figure this out.
UMN Guide for Parenting College Students
Want more information on how to best support your college student? The University of Minnesota has assembled this comprehensive online guide for Parenting College Students, helping parents navigate how to have conversations with your student about academic decision making, financial issues, many sensitive subjects, and more.