Supporting your child through their first year of college.

A young adult’s first semester of college, especially if they’re living outside the home, can be fraught with complications, excitement and challenges. Most teens and families are under equipped to deal with all the areas of transition that come with a teen starting college.

There are a lot of moving pieces that come with starting college, and this blog seeks to provide a few tips to keep in mind as a teen starts college for the first time.

  • Ask questions of everyone at your teen’s college–financial aid counselors, your teen’s Resident Advisor (RA), any faculty advisors or administrators. Most teens assume that since they’ve been working toward college and going on intensive college visits that they’re equipped for every circumstance, but it’s ok for parents to get involved. Especially when it comes to financial matters.
  • Put together a packet of important information to pass to your teen–include medical information, medications, doctors names/phone numbers, insurance information, parents’ office and cell phone numbers and any emergency contacts that could be helpful. Even though we live in an increasingly digital age, it can be helpful to have all this information in writing and accessible if your teen needs it.
  • Establish a framework for communication before your teen leaves for college. If the expectation is for the teen to call home once per week, make sure they’re aware of that. Once these routines are established, it’s easier for the busy teen to follow through and it’s easier for the parents to know they’ll be able to get weekly updates on how their child is doing.
  • Discuss any academic expectations before your teens leaves for college, but be flexible. The first semester and indeed the first whole year of college can be very challenging, both academically and socially. Some teens may need support from their academic advisors, the college tutoring center or career counselors to maintain healthy study habits/time management. Allow for some shifting of your child’s academics and know that they may not perform at the level they did in high school–college is different, more difficult and more intense than high school.

Sarah (Brookings) Connor, LPC
sconnor @

Photo Credit: Public Domain