From Highschool to College—Helping Them Handle The Transition
By Luke Mead, Co-Founder & Advisor
As a parent of three college graduates, I can tell you that each one of my daughters has handled the transition from living at home to heading off to college in very different ways. There is only so much we can do as parents to help guide them through this transitional period in their lives. Here are a few tips to consider that will help make life easier for you and your student throughout the process:
Find The Right-Fit School – Of course, we want them to get into the school of their dreams, but is that school really going to be the best one for them? Unfortunately, it may not be. It is up to us to make sure they are asking all the right questions about what is important when considering a school. Do they want a school with a strong school spirit? How about a big campus with a lot of people? Do they need something smaller with a more community feel? Maybe they want to pledge the Greek System? Is food-selection going to be an important factor for them? What about being close to family? Asking questions like these will be much more important to their success and happiness than the sheer name of the college they attend.
Attend A Summer Program On Campus – Enrolling in an on-campus summer program is a terrific way to gain some insight into what campus life is all about: from dorm-room living to exploring food options, and getting a general taste of what it will be like to live away from home. At this point in the process, most students haven’t yet dealt with what it’s like to have a roommate, communal bathrooms, a shared kitchen, or an overall lack of personal space. Making the move from the comfortable environment they’ve always known as home, to a completely new lifestyle and atmosphere can come as a culture shock for some students. This can make an already stressful transition seem even more difficult. A one to two-week program will make the jump to full-time dorm and campus living much easier.
Teach Them To Cook Their Favorite Meal – Becoming homesick is very common for most students in the beginning. Something my girls always said they missed the most was their favorite homecooked meal. For my daughter Kaelin, it was Spaghetti (most importantly—with my sauce). During her first year of college, it was quite simply the food she missed the most. Once I took the time to teach her the secret to my spaghetti sauce, it gave her the ability to have that familiar taste of home she had been craving, any time she wanted.
Attend Family Weekends – My wife and I made it a point to attend each “Family Weekend” for our girls; I also went for “Dad’s Weekend” each year. Most students love when they get to come home and visit family, but they also really love the opportunity to have you become a part of their new life at college. Even if it’s just a weekend, take advantage of the events the school organizes so you can build some long-lasting memories for both you and your student. In most cases, there will be many opportunities for you to attend things like sporting events, barbecues, or possibly even a party in the dorms.
Helping our kids make a smooth transition into this next chapter of their lives is really one of the greatest things we can do for them. Of course, it’s never easy to say goodbye to our kids, but as we continue to demonstrate our support along the way, we will at least have the reassurance knowing they are prepared with the tools necessary to take on this next monumental phase in their lives.