Six tips for parents to help their student transition to college

Aug 22, 2019

A high school graduate’s transition to college can be tough — but having a solid support system can help ease the stress of the move.

It can be difficult for the parent or guardian of a soon-to-be-college student to find a good balance of concern and assistance without seeming overwhelming to their already-nervous student.

Check out these six tips to help your student effectively transition to college.


Communication is key — especially if your student is moving far away from home.

Creating time to sit down with your student before school starts and encouraging them to express their fears and expectations of the college experience is a great way to start a positive line of communication.

Are they anxious about living with a new roommate in the dorms and being far away from home? Are they nervous about taking seemingly more difficult classes than they are expecting?

Creating an environment for open communication will help your student feel as if they are not alone on this journey. It assures them that you are with them for the long haul.

Give them a piece of home

Whether it’s a scrapbook, a blanket or something personalized and unique, giving your student a piece of home can make them feel more comfortable in an unknown environment.

Every time they look at the gift that you gave them, they will think of home and all the people that helped get them to this point. 

Don’t forget, students love getting mail. A care package with your student’s favorite snacks, a small gift card to their favorite nearby restaurant, extra pens and pencils and spare household essentials can be just what your student needs come midterms or finals week.

Not only do they get the excitement of picking something up from the mailroom, but they also get to enjoy the contents of the box and knowing that you’re thinking of them. 

Not all gifts have to be as extravagant as a care package. A simple card or letter can do the trick to lift your student’s spirits. Never underestimate the excitement of getting something in the mail.

And don’t be afraid to share your student’s address with family and friends so they, too, can send your student reminders that they are knocking this semester out of the park.

Be their support system

One of the most powerful things that you can do for your student is to just be there for them.

Make it clear to them that even though they are taking on this new step in their life, you will always be here to support their endeavors. Ensure that they know you are only a phone call or text away.

For some, the first few weeks of college can be scary and lonely. Make sure they know that you are along for the ride. Encourage them to go out and meet new people. Let them know you are there for them but also that there are other people that can help make their college experience incredible.

Encourage them to go to various events around campus from social activities to a home sporting event or a theater production. There is always something to do on a college campus.

Encourage them to take advantage of the resources available to them

Universities offer a wide variety of student resources to help students succeed.

Encourage your student to reach out to their academic advisor to be sure they are on the path that’s right for them. Help your student locate tutoring services on campus, counseling options and other academic resources.

College may not always be easy, but there is always someone to talk to. Encourage your student to reach out to the university’s student life department to find out how they can become engaged in student activities and find an on-campus job.

Embrace change

College helps students learn not only how much they know about a particular subject matter, but also about themselves.

Embrace the changes that your student is going through. If they are calling you every day at the beginning of the semester, but by midterms, you only talk a couple of times a week, don’t take offense.

Just know this means they are getting busier and are using their time in different ways. They are experiencing a change in life and learning what it means to truly be independent.

Help them feel at home in their new city

If you are leaving your new college student in an unfamiliar new city, help them embrace the local community.

Take a little time, if possible, to explore the city with them. Discover where the closest gas station and grocery stores are located. Having a GPS built into a phone is nice, but it is always more comforting when you are familiar with your surroundings and know how to get to your most frequented places quickly.

Find out where the local hotspots and hangouts are and enjoy a few with your student before you leave.

No matter what happens, always know that your student will still need you during this transition in their life. They are looking to you for guidance.

You’re the one who taught them how to walk and now you’re helping them fly.