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Tips for Parenting College Students Through Freshman Year

Posted: May 24, 2022
Parenting Freshman

Whether you’re a parent that’s been excited for years that your child will leave the house for college or one that will be an empty nester, your life is going to change. It will be tough for you the first year your child is away at school, and it’s going to be hard for your first-year student as well. It’s okay to have your worries, all parents do. It’s a transition period for both you and your student. Collegeboxes is here to help you with how to parent college freshmen and how to give advice properly.

Advice for Parents of First-Year College Students

First, the best advice we can give you is not to be a helicopter parent. That is when the parent is overprotective or has too much interest in deciding everything for their child. This is the time when your child finds their independence. If you need any more convincing, there are handfuls of scholarly articles including this one from the University of Mary Washington that talks about how helicopter parenting can lead to predictive negative outcomes such as increased depression and decreased satisfaction with life.

How do you avoid being a helicopter parent? Follow these steps:

  • Let your child struggle, let them fail. It’s good for them to live and learn.
  • What you want for your child isn’t always what they want.
  • Don’t let your emotions take away from your child’s college experience.

It’s okay to want the best college experience for your student. It’s okay to try and guide your child down a certain path if they want to. It is normal to be upset and miss your child. However, for many, this is the best stretch of their life, and they need to solve issues on their own. As a parent, you might not believe us, but they’ll call, they always do because they miss you too.

When building independence, there will be times your college student fails. Waking up late and missing their first class of the day. Choosing to go to that party instead of studying more for that midterm. They’ll probably burn the first meal they try to make on their own. These are all life lessons that create growth. Telling them what they should do, isn’t going to help them grow. Generally, when they need help, you’re the first person they turn to.

The major your child picked when they left for college, probably isn’t the one they’ll come home with. That might upset you, it was your dream to see them become an engineer. But they might’ve discovered they have a passion for digital design while at college. This is a reminder that this is their college experience, not yours, and you never know, they could flip back to the original choice too.

It can be scary knowing your New York-raised student is thousands of miles away at college in California. That doesn’t mean you need them to constantly text you back or answer the phone at the drop of a dime. You can’t set a curfew for them. You can’t make them study or pick up their room. Parents can make suggestions, but there are plenty of ways to help your empty nest feeling without taking away from the college experience.

Remind yourself that your job doesn’t end as a parent once they go to school or even after they graduate. Children always come back to their parents for advice about all their life encounters. It’s also important to remember that it’s normal to feel this way and that you can seek help to talk to someone about these feelings because they’re shared with many parents. It’s also a great time to spend more time with the spouse or friends, take that trip you’ve all talked about for years because the kids aren’t around.

Above all else, if your student does come back home for summer break, you still have a few more of these years, so adjust accordingly.

Advice for College Freshman from Parent

Your college freshman will still need help and your advice for their first year at school. There are a variety of ways to help your first-year student without being too involved in their day-to-day life.

Here are a few talking points that serve as great advice to college freshmen:

  • Push them outside their comfort zone.
  • Listen to their problems, but don’t jump to solve them.
  • Take notes on what they struggle with to know what could be better next year.

When your child isn’t picking up their phone, it means they’re busy, either studying or having fun. If they respond too quickly, it might be a sign they aren’t putting themselves out there. College isn’t about staying in your dorm room and studying all day after class. Even though some parents might believe that. You know your child better than anyone, try to push them to try new things that are like their interests. Trying new activities helps students develop the ability to take on a challenge, build confidence, expand their friend group, and a lot of other positives.

Students can bring a laundry list – one being their laundry – of issues to their parents. Living on your own away from home is hard, it’s a long adjustment. Although you probably have a solution, it’s best not to tell them how to solve it. Give little hints or suggestions and see if they run with it. Even if it’s a simple solution letting them believe they figured it out can be a big morale boost. It’ll also make you feel good as a parent knowing you helped them even from afar.

Looking back at freshman year is always a good exercise, but your student isn’t going to remember all the issues they encountered. That’s where the organized, great listening parent that you are comes in. Take notes of the problems they complain to you about because college isn’t a one-year trip. This way you guys can plan during summer break to make it easier next year.

Are you a soon-to-be college freshman? Here are tips on how to survive your 1st semester of college.

More great advice to give your son or daughter is to use Collegeboxes. The No.1 Student Storage and Shipping Provider, powered by U-Haul. We serve over 350 schools with different services including Storage and Shipping, Ship to School, and Direct Shipping. Learn more about us at collegeboxes.com and sign up today!