A Parents and Students’ Guide to Surviving the “Transition Year”

Going off to college elicits feelings of anxiety and excitement in both students and parents. All the planning, shopping, money and time required to make the college transition go smoothly can strain your relationship with your parents. Once you arrive at school, it may be hard for you to keep in touch with your parents, and it might be hard for them not to call you every half hour. To avoid unnecessary arguments and hurt feelings, remember that any relationship requires some give and take, keep these tips in mind and share them with your parents so they better understand how to help you during this time.

Parents: Do Not Expect Them to Answer the Phone Every Time

We are not living at home anymore. Therefore, you do not know exactly where we are, what we are doing or what time we will be back at the dorm. If we do not answer our cell phone, do not panic. We are probably in class or studying in the quiet section of the library. Perhaps we went on a run or left our phone in the room while we got some dinner. The list of normal things we could be doing is a lot longer than the list of things we do that could harm us. And do not think that we do not want to talk to you; it makes us feel bad. If you are desperate for some communication, try sending a text instead. It makes talking in the library much easier.

Students: If You Do Not Answer Your Parents the First Time, Call Them Back

For the past 18 or 19 years, your parents have watched your grow and helped you through a lot of things in your life. So do not feel like they are “babying” you when they call and want to check up on you. It is their natural instinct to want to care for you and that does not go away just because you are not at home anymore. Let them know what you have been up to (without the annoyed tone of voice) and ask about life at home. Talking with your parents can be a nice change of pace from talking about classes and homework.

Parents: Hold Back the Judgment

Because we do not have you watching our every move, we might make a mistake or two along the way. Being on our own gives us a chance to learn from our mistakes, but we do not need someone yelling at us or making us feel bad about them. If we stay out too late or do badly on a test, do not automatically think we are not trying to succeed. It will take some time to find the right school/life balance that makes us happy and allows us to get our work done.

Students: Be Responsible

The freedom of college can make it seem like you can get away with doing whatever you want. But you must remember you are going to college (and paying for it) to learn. Going out every night may seem a lot more fun than studying, but the reality is that you should probably be doing more studying than anything else. If you decide to get a job during school, do not stay up late if you know you have to work in the morning. If you learn to manage your responsibilities early on, you will impress your parents and other important people such as employers or professors.

Parents and Students: Be Supportive

The first year of college is full of many changes and important decisions. As a family, you and your parents should be supportive of each other. If Mom wants to come visit and look at your dorm, do not get embarrassed and groan about it; if your student wants to change his or her major for the third time, encourage them to do it. A great support system makes any major change easier to adjust to.

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Caitlin Furin

Caitlin Furin

Caitlin Furin is a senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in journalism and strategic communication. With an interest in social media, she can often be found exploring the Facebook walls, Twitter feeds and Pinterest profiles of big brands. Her laptop and iPhone never leave her side. Outside of school and work, Caitlin can be found enjoying a good TV show or two and spending time with her friends and family.
Caitlin Furin

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