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In addition to preparing them for the responsibilities that come with college and independence, parents should discuss how to manage distractions as well as expectations.

Sure, there are indicators of success. However, many young adults who are expected to excel, fail miserably when they run into the many stressors that occur in college settings.

College students who are accustomed to frequent monitoring at home are overwhelmed when they get on campus and often don’t seek help until it’s too late. What’s more, parents and their teenagers don’t always focus on sharpening the emotional skills that will serve them well in their new environment.

Teens starting college need to develop self-awareness and what it takes for them to succeed in life — academically, emotionally, and socially — and how to make that happen.
How do parents begin this process?

Evaluate how much monitoring and support your teen has from you and other adults.

  • For example, are they getting themselves ready for school daily, or are you? That is, do you wake them up, do their laundry, run their errands, make their appointments?
  • Are you filling out their college applications and financial aid forms?
  • Do they have tutors, therapists or a disability?
  • Do they spend most of their time with a support team in school?
  • Are you primarily responsible for making sure they are meeting their responsibilities? Deadlines?
  • Are you constantly reminding or monitoring their time and activities?

Find time to talk to them.

  • Tell them that starting college can be a major adjustment and for them to be ready they need to begin taking responsibility for their own obligations.
  • Tell them what they will need to foster their own independence. Brainstorm with your teen on what they can begin doing for themselves that they are used to you doing for them.
  • Discuss creating a new support team on campus that mirrors the support they feel they are presently receiving.
  • Ask if they have any worries or concerns about going off to college. Listen to their concerns, brainstorm for solutions, obtain information. Talk to a professional in the field now when they are still in your “orbit.”
  • Get the facts. For resources on challenges at college as well as a successful transition, visit collegewithconfidence.com

Lastly, parents need to normalize their teens’ feelings while keeping abreast of changes in sleeping habits, appetites, level of energy, concentration, mood, socialization, and substance use. If they’re living on campus, get the phone numbers of their roommate as well as the resident advisor. Above all, trust your gut reaction and consult a mental health professional on campus or someone you trust locally when you sense problems.

Originally published at socialworkers.org.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis


  • Maureen Price Tillman

    L.C.S.W., Clinical Social Worker, College With Confidence LLC

    Maureen Price Tillman, L.C.S.W., received her Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania in 1975. She has practiced as an adolescent and adult psychotherapist in New Jersey for 40 years. Maureen created College with Confidence 15 years ago when she experienced an increase in students for therapy who had a crisis in college and needed to return home. The students were devastated and the parents were confused and extremely worried. Maureen decided to create a proactive college transition service for high school students, as well as help college students become emotionally stable and resilient and decide on the best path moving forward. Maureen has a private practice in Maplewood, New Jersey and with today's technology she is able to consult around the globe. Believing in proactive education, she created The New York Times Local College Corner, had a blog on the Huffington Post, and was recently published by Grown & Flown. Maureen has recently been interviewed for articles in The New York Times and featured in a number of publications for the National Association of Social Workers. You can follow her on her Facebook page, The College Corner.