For college Freshmen who did not enjoy their first semester, not returning for the spring semester is an all-too-real choice. Whether they have withdrawn from their classes without any timeline of returning, or requested a medical leave for the spring semester, everyone is now staring down the barrel of eight months of unstructured time. For the parents who were excited to help their young person launch, this return to the nest so soon can feel like a reflection on their parenting. Returning to the nest is not a failure. Not having a plan for them when while their peers are returning to school, now that’s where the issue lies.

As a parent, it is no longer your duty to care for your legal-aged adult. If you don’t want them to be in your home, you can set that boundary.  It may come off as heartless, but if that’s your interpretation I fear you are missing the point. The point is to express the importance of the parents having control over who they feel financially responsible for. In agreeing to support them not returning to college, your young adult will feel validated. For whatever their reasoning (academically too stressful, didn’t make friends, etc.), they did not feel comfortable going back. Okay! That’s totally normal. Where you need to be on your game, is to let them know if they don’t go back, they cannot stay with you. Ask them what their plan is. If they don’t have a plan, help them create one.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

This is a quote I used to share with the college students I worked with regarding prioritization and organization. The same now goes for parents of a young adult who’s withdrawn from college. If they requested medical leave, they need to go to a residential treatment program. Period. Staying at home is not therapeutic. In my view, it’s a young adult stalling out or circling the drain. Neither is a pretty picture when it comes to launching into adulthood. If they aren’t going to school or staying at home, what are their options? Honestly, they are endless. Below are merely five of the top resources I would consider looking into.

If you want a basement dweller, then disregard all the advice and options listed above. If you don’t take this seriously, you will blink and have a 30-year-old-toddler still living in your home. Sound terrifying? I hope so!

Help your loved one relaunch by creating a plan today. Do not waste another moment in establishing the roles, rules, and the options.

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For questions or comments contact Joanna at 970-218-9958 or via email.


  • Joanna Lilley, MA, NCC

    Therapeutic Consultant / Young Adult Transition Specialist / College Success Coach

    Lilley Consulting

    After previously working at two institutions of higher education, specifically in Student Success & Retention, Joanna hung up her shingle to provide support for the flight of students leaving colleges campuses.  She now dedicates herself to working solely with emerging adults who unravel when they land on a college campus.  Her passion and drive is to coach this population back into good academic standing, or connect this population to mental health and substance abuse treatment programs that will provide stability, sobriety, and the executive functioning skills this population needs to move forward in life.  Most of her clients are currently enrolled on campus, or those who have already left feeling defeated.  With a magic wand, Joanna supports young adults with mental health issues with their the transition into adulthood and back into higher education.  Fear not, she works with the entire family system to help them heal and grow as this is not a "quick fix."  You can learn more about Lilley Consulting by checking out the website.  You can also listen to the Success is Subjective Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or any podcast listening platform where she interviews individuals across the country who took a break during their emerging adulthood years.  This podcast is ideal for young adults or families members who are looking for hope and relief in supporting a loved one.  When not working with young adults, you will find Joanna writing or playing outdoors with her rescue pup in the mountains of western Colorado.