This is a guest post by Honest College contributor Emma Roberts!
Chances are good that your kid couldn’t wait to leave for college. The activities! The freedom! The school spirit! But beneath that show of enthusiasm may lay a bundle of unspoken nerves. There is a natural fear among college freshman that seeps into just about every aspect of life, from the social awkwardness of being a new kid on campus to fretting over making it to class without Mom around to serve as a back-up alarm clock. As your child goes off to college for the first time, use these tips to help guide her, and yourself, through one of the most difficult transitions she will ever make.
Keep in Touch
Your kid will miss you. She’s looked to you for guidance and advice, whether she liked it or not, her entire life. She still needs to know you’re around and available. That doesn’t mean you need to call every day, and you probably shouldn’t. For some kids, a weekly call might be enough. Agree to communicate as frequently as you and your freshman are comfortable with.
Encourage Good Health
Many college freshmen lack the discipline to take care of themselves. Late-night snacks, pizza and sugary soft drinks are easy to come by. One in four freshmen gains 10 pounds during their first semester, according to a study in Nutrition Journal, so remind them to exercise and make good food choices to avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15.” It’s also important to promote good sleeping habits.
Establish the Rules
She may be out of the house, but she’s still your kid, and chances are you still have financial ties. Have a discussion about your expectations. Let her know what you expect in terms of grades, spending money, extracurricular activities and visits home. The reality is, privacy laws will prevent the university from telling you much, if anything, about your kid until it may be too late, so you need to keep the lines of communication open and let her know you’re still the parent.
Get to Know the Campus
Your freshman may get ill sometime during the year and need medical attention. Understand what the options are for seeking treatment on campus. College is also a stressful time, and your student may need someone to talk to during exams or other particularly trying times. Encourage involvement in campus activities, such as intramural sports or organizations that appeal to your freshman’s interests and spiritual gatherings.
Believe it or not, your freshman will want you to see her “new” life and friends, and she’ll want to introduce them to you. Attend a sporting event at the school, or arrange to visit for a weekend when you’ll have time to have lunch together and explore the campus and town. Keep in mind, though, that a surprise visit is usually not a good idea and could end with disastrous results. Respect your freshman’s privacy as much as possible, but do plan time for each other.
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