Summer is quickly coming to a close, and the day that once seemed so far away is suddenly straight ahead: the day your child leaves the nest for his or her freshman year of college. Wasn’t it just yesterday that you were singing lullabies and changing diapers? Now your child stands before you on the verge of adulthood, ready to take on the world — without you.

If you have spent the last 18 years building a strong bond with your child, then he/she likely has a strong inner core thanks to the trust and confidence you have helped him/her gain throughout the years. While this will help your child immensely as he/she ventures into a new, more independent season of life, you are still, and always will be, the parent. As difficult as this transition may be for you, try to focus on making the most of this time together preparing your child for college.

There are some things that you can do now during these final precious weeks and months leading up to college that can help create a smooth transition for your child.

1. Work with your child on important independent life skills before they leave. Does your child know how to do his/her own laundry? Is he/she comfortable taking public transportation? Now is the time to practice these skills with your child so that he/she can accomplish them independently with more confidence in college.

2. Discuss money matters. Colleges and universities are easy targets for credit card companies. Talk with your child about budgeting and share your own budget tips that have worked for you as well as mistakes you may have made. Discuss how credit cards really work, and what the true cost can be of taking on debt at such a young age.

3. Help them learn time management skills. This will be the first time, for most children, when they will be fully responsible for every moment of their time…and juggling college calendars can be overwhelming for many freshmen. Share your time management skills, question their classwork and activities schedule, and ask your child to brainstorm how he/she might best juggle these new responsibilities.

4. Outline your expectations. Even though your child may not be living at home full-time, they should know that you are still their parent and you still have expectations that you would like them to meet. Do they have to maintain a certain grade point average to stay in school or keep scholarships? Do you expect to hear from them via phone at least once a week or twice a week? Do they need to maintain a part-time job in order to stay in school? Whatever your family situation, make sure you clearly lay out your expectations for your child.

5. Practice my empathic process. Try to have weekly family meetings with your child before he/she leaves for college and use this time to allow your child to share any questions or concerns he/she has about going away to college.

I remember when my son was preparing for college; I remember as if it were yesterday. It was an emotional time, and as his mother, I felt many conflicting emotions. You may be feeling like this as well, but remember that this time is about your child, and your job, still, is to parent. If you spend this time preparing your child for his/her first true taste of adult independence, you will both be able to step into this new season of life with trust and confidence.


  • Dr. Gail Gross

    Author and Parenting, Relationships, and Human Behavior Expert

    Dr. Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., a member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and member of APA Division 39, is a nationally recognized family, child development, and human behavior expert, author, and educator. Her positive and integrative approach to difficult issues helps families navigate today’s complex problems. Dr. Gross is frequently called upon by national and regional media to offer her insight on topics involving family relationships, education, behavior, and development issues. A dependable authority, Dr. Gross has contributed to broadcast, print and online media including CNN, the Today Show, CNBC's The Doctors, Hollywood Reporter, FOX radio, FOX’s The O’Reilly Factor, MSNBC, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Times of India, People magazine, Parents magazine, Scholastic Parent and Child Magazine, USA Today, Univision, ABC, CBS, and KHOU's Great Day Houston Show. She is a veteran radio talk show host as well as the host of the nationally syndicated PBS program, “Let’s Talk.” Also, Dr. Gross has written a semi-weekly blog for The Huffington Post and has blogged at since 2013. Recently, Houston Women's Magazine named her One of Houston's Most Influential Women of 2016. Dr. Gross is a longtime leader in finding solutions to the nation’s toughest education challenges. She co-founded the first-of-its kind Cuney Home School with her husband Jenard, in partnership with Texas Southern University. The school serves as a national model for improving the academic performance of students from housing projects by engaging the parents. Dr. Gross also has a public school elementary and secondary campus in Texas that has been named for her. Additionally, she recently completed leading a landmark, year-long study in the Houston Independent School District to examine how stress-reduction affects academics, attendance, and bullying in elementary school students, and a second study on stress and its effects on learning. Such work has earned her accolades from distinguished leaders such as the Dalai Lama, who presented her with the first Spirit of Freedom award in 1998. More recently, she was honored in 2013 with the Jung Institute award. She also received the Good Heart Humanitarian Award from Jewish Women International, Perth Amboy High School Hall of Fame Award, the Great Texan of the Year Award, the Houston Best Dressed Hall of Fame Award, Trailblazer Award, Get Real New York City Convention's 2014 Blogging Award, and Woman of Influence Award. Dr. Gross’ book, The Only Way Out Is Through, is available on Amazon now and offers strategies for life’s transitions including coping with loss, drawing from dealing with the death of her own daughter. Her next book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, is also available on Amazon now and teaches parents how to enhance their child’s learning potential by understanding and recognizing their various development stages. And her first research book was published by Random House in 1987 on health and skin care titled Beautiful Skin. Dr. Gross has created 8 audio tapes on relaxation and stress reduction that can be purchased on Most recently, Dr. Gross’s book, The Only Way Out is Through, was named a Next Generation Indie Book Awards Silver Medal finalist in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the categories of Death & Dying as well as Grief. Her latest book, How to Build Your Baby’s Brain, was the National Parenting Product Awards winner in 2019, the Nautilus Book Awards winner in 2019, ranked the No. 1 Best New Parenting Book in 2019 and listed among the Top 10 Parenting Books to Read in 2020 by BookAuthority, as well as the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Gold Medal winner in 2020 and Winner of the 2021 Independent Press Awards in the category of How-To. Dr. Gross received a BS in Education and an Ed.D. (Doctorate of Education) with a specialty in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Education with a focus on Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. Dr. Gross received her second PhD in Psychology, with a concentration in Jungian studies. Dr. Gross was the recipient of Kappa Delta Pi An International Honor Society in Education. Dr. Gross was elected member of the International English Honor Society Sigma Tau Delta.