Revisiting Freshman Year: Advice to Parents

I had a rough transition into college. For some reason, I approached the whole moving out situation under the false pretense that I would effortlessly be able to balance sky- high tuition costs, mountains of school work, inevitable partying, and my long anticipated independence without any help from my mom.

Looking back, I don’t remember anyone telling me freshman year was easy so I must’ve wrongly convinced myself through my own naivety. Regardless, I quickly realized that I did, in fact, need the guidance of my mom.

Overcoming my own character flaws was not, unfortunately, the only obstacle my mom and I faced during this first life-changing year at college. I’ve brainstormed a few pointers so that maybe, as parents of stubbornly independent teens like myself, you can hopefully avoid a few undesirable situations during this huge move.

1. Try not to feel personally hurt when your freshman doesn’t call home every weekend.

There is so much going on during the first year of college; it’s really easy to get carried away in the tide. I got so caught up in the new friends, the clubs, the parties, and the schoolwork that I continually forgot to call my mom on the weekends, or return her calls. At first it was hard for her to understand, or remember from her own experience, that I’m living in an entirely new world as an adult. We don’t call because we (unfortunately) forget, not because we don’t love you.

2. Don’t underestimate the organizational power of bins, tubs, and containers.

Dorm rooms are small, and yet they’re like a black hole. Before my mom brought me extra bins and containers I swear someone was sneaking into my room and stealing my socks. They seem like space consumers, but it’s worth it I promise.

3. Your student is sure to be graced with the humbling experience of failing an exam or two- he or she already feels bad enough about it so try to have patience and hold back the yelling.

Unlike a lot of high school seniors, in college we’re, for the most part, trying really hard to get good grades. Unfortunately studying for 10 hours doesn’t always cut it. Try not to be too harsh when our efforts don’t pull through the desired results.

4. If your freshman is paying for college on their own, be prepared to have a whole lot of questions coming your way.

This was a big one. FASFA is confusing enough, but having to deal with payment plans, rude financial aid office workers, and loans was insanely overwhelming. Unfortunately, my mom hadn’t dealt with any of that for years so when I came to her with questions she never really had answers. I think we could’ve avoided a lot of arguments had I been more patient, and if she had brushed up a little bit on college finance information.

5. When your child finally comes back to you for help, remember, you don’t like hearing “I told you so” and neither do they.

My pride kept me from asking for help for way too long. When I finally gathered the courage to go back to my mom her “I told you so” was like salt in the wound. Even though it’s true, try and save it for when your student is less stressed.

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Caitlin Leppert

Caitlin Leppert

Caitlin Leppert is a freshman at Michigan State University pursuing a degree in journalism. At MSU, she is a member of the Outdoors Club taking weekend adventures in nature. Caitlin also enjoys long boarding, Ray Charles, and, of course, writing.