Letting Go: Help Your Child Prepare For College Life, Early

Are you struggling to let go of your “little girl” or “little boy” as they leave for college? Most parents are.

It seems one of the most difficult aspects of college is learning how to live without the son or daughter who is leaving you, but there are many ways to ease the stress of the transition process. Luckily for me, my parents knew how to help me transition to college life in a smooth and exciting manner.

Here is their secret: they began the transition process in high school, instead of starting it when they dropped me off at my dorm for the first time.

Going to college means freedom; freedom to work and play as hard as you want, freedom to manage money how you want and freedom to make many more important decisions that until the child leaves, are guided by parents. Preparing your child for the new sense of freedom they will acquire is crucial to making a transition of such grandeur, easier.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advising you to allow your child unlimited freedom throughout their entire high school career, but I found it is especially important to start lifting the limitations during the end of their junior year, and especially during their senior year of high school.

By placing fewer restrictions on your child at the end of their high school career, they are able to practice making mistakes and decisions that they will be faced with almost immediately in college. Give guidance where guidance is needed, but leaving wiggle room for your child to critically think and solve problems on their own will prepare them for life on campus.

During my freshman year of college, I observed two very distinct “types” of freshman. There were the freshman that were excessively coddled during high school, and freshman that were given more freedom and adult responsibilities during high school. Of course I am generalizing to an extent, but these two types of freshman I noticed lived very predictable freshman year life styles.

One type of freshman viewed college as their playground, where partying, laziness and swiping the credit card was endless. The other type lived a more balanced life style, allowing time for both schoolwork and a social life.

Can you guess which was which?

Even experts agree that if your child is being coddled and restricted up until the moment they graduate, they will have missed out on opportunities to practice effective decision-making, like when to choose the library over a frat party.

Like I said, my parents seemed to have this down.

I grew up in a household based on rules and responsibilities that were to be strictly observed, but my parents made sure to treat me like an adult when I was one (within reason, of course).

Simple alterations to my limitations during my senior year especially allowed me to get used to the feeling of newfound freedom. I was gradually given a later curfew, and allowed to attend parties, concerts and other adult events, but at the same time I was expected to maintain my other responsibilities. Through this I developed strong habits when it came to balancing work and play.

Since my parents introduced me to snippets of college life in high school, the transition from being a high school student to college student was smoother than many of my friends.

However, I’ve seen the opposite in action too. Friends I met during my freshman year that were never given the opportunity to act like adults, partied too hard and too often, maxed out their credit cards and failed to keep up their academics, and this is no exaggeration.

So parents, while I can imagine how difficult it must be to see your babies all grown up, you have to let them. Let them make mistakes, achieve their goals and make decisions on their own while they still have you down the hallway to guide them if they fail. Once they get to college, the real-world effect sets in, and mistakes are somewhat less acceptable.

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Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet

Madeline Fetchiet is a sophomore at Michigan State University, studying journalism and philosophy of law. Aside from reporting, Madeline enjoys tae kwon do, reading, writing, researching and traveling, and can be considered a music enthusiast. Madeline currently works as an intern for thecollegehelper.com, and is a banquet server at Travis Pointe Country Club in Ann Arbor, MI. Perfecting the storytelling side of reporting is something she looks forward to in her future career as a journalist.
Madeline Fetchiet

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