Tips for Parent’s and Kids Headed to College

by Allison Goldberg, Certified Life and Corporate Coach, Published Author, public speaker and regular guest on television shows, radio shows and podcasts.

When most people hear the “C word” they think of the horrific illness, Cancer.  However, for those who are seniors in high school or parents, friends, relatives and teachers, it means something much different.  It means COLLEGE.  The “C” word is the elephant in the room or the topic that sends high school seniors into a panic state.  So, in order to gain some control or semblance of order in their lives, they just refuse to talk about it. Of course, unless they are forced to.  At which time, we will hear responses such as “well, I am keeping my options open” or “I prefer the west coast or I am looking at staying in the south”among many other PLANNED come backs when people ask the big question.  “Where are you going to college?”

Once the seniors have made their final decisions, which for most is around April, the questions change from where are you going to college to what are you going to study? How do you feel about leaving home? And then, the anxiety is heightened  yet again because now the unknown factors start surfacing.  Will they be ok being away from home? What if they don’t make friends?  What if the school is too hard?

I have given a talk to several groups of senior girls and their parents regarding the huge transition of being in high school, living in their parent’s homes to going off to college.  I was asked to address the challenging issues that parents face in letting their children go and the effects that this transition has on them.  I was also asked to address the students on the same challenges in leaving home and the effect that it may have on them as well.

There are several useful tips that that will assist in this very uncertain, scary transition that affects the entire family.  As a certified life coach, a corporate coach, a published author and regular guest on television shows and radio shows, I continue to collaborate with various experts and colleagues to truly understand this process. I too, am a mom who has sent two daughters to college. This allows me to utilize the wisdom offered, and my own life training to help client’s access the tools that will work best for them. Through this process, I will share first, concrete ways for parents to deal with the transition, then I will share tips about surviving the transition for the kids headed to college!


  • When your kids ask you what they should do about any given scenario, realize this; What they really want is a “think partner” not advice. They want help navigating the waters which is far different than advice. My favorite question to a kid who is in distress is simply, “What have you thought about around this issue?” They outline 100 alternatives. It is from there that an important adult, (you), can begin to help think with them. This takes time and often we, as parents are WAY too eager to give advice in order to solve the problem so our kids won’t hurt. Nobody wants to get a phone call from a hysterical child. Fixing the problem for them is not the answer.
  • Practice daily self care- What do you need to do for yourself that shows that you are important and that you have value in this world? Something that is not simply defined by your children.  These are the other things that you love in your life.  Exercise, Hobbies, Reading and nurturing friendships, volunteering and career.
  • Be a mirror to your college kids- if they are not calling you, everything is ok and they are navigating their way through their new life.  We give them wings,now we need to let them fly. 
  • Trust the process, feel your feelings and be present with them, in that moment.  Acknowledge when you are sad. Find a safe person who you can share that feeling with.    You are not alone and it is very hard to let go. It’s ok to feel those things.  By embracing the feeling in that moment, you can navigate through it and get to the other side.
  • Add two new words to your vocabulary- NEW NORMAL.  Using these two words tricks your brain into adapting to change more smoothly.


  • Take the word “Perfect” out of your vocabulary- there is no such thing as the “perfect” college.  Every college has its pro’s and con’s and even if a college seems “perfect” it never ends up being perfect.
  • You are not Married to this college- let’s hope it is the good match, but if for any reason, it isn’t, there are other colleges who would love to have you.
  • Creating good habits include well defined time management, What do you want your day to look like each day? Write it down.  Make good healthy food choices. People talk about how hard it is to eat healthy in college- think about that now, before you leave for college. How are you going to balance eating the “college way and  eat healthy too”- have a game plan for that. Plan now-how will you get up each morning without all mom or dad checking to see if you are up?
  • Understand and acknowledge that disappointment is part of life. Learning to advocate for yourself with adults, professors, all on your own will be your new way of life. All of those things that you do now with the help of your parents are now going to happen because YOU make them happen. You got this!
  • Before you call your parents for guidance, ask yourself first what YOU really think, then ask a trusted friend and if you still don’t have an answer, then you can run it by your parents.  LEARN to use these words when you call your parents – “I am just venting or I would like to know what you think”.  It is very important to be CLEAR so that they can be what you need them to be in that moment.
  • Practice daily self- care. What do you need to do for yourself that shows that you are important and you have value in this world? This includes things that are not strictly related to being a student.  Make sure to identify what makes you happy and do something EVERY single day to make yourself happy.  Hobbies, exercise, spending time outdoors etc.
  • Communicate with your parents.  Let them know how you are doing.  Not every minute or every hour, but give them a little peak into your life, with a quick call or text. This will go a long way.  And if you share with them, they won’t bug you and stay on top of you because they won’t need to. 
  • Add two new words to your vocabulary- NEW NORMAL.  Using these two words tricks your brain into adapting to change more smoothly.

Good luck and remember this, we take ourselves wherever we go.  So, for the kids who are going off to college, hold on to YOU.  You are amazing and have everything it takes to own this transition.  And for parents, you have done your job and you have done it well.  Although your job is never over, it’s time to let them be the young adults you have raised them to be. 


  • Allison Goldberg

    Certified Life Coach , Corporate Coach and Published Author

    Allison Goldberg, Certified Life Coach, Corporate Coach, Published Author of How to Simplify Your Life in 30 Days, Regular guest on television, radio and podcast shows, Public Speaker, Facilitator and guest writer for several online publications. Life Coach Allison Goldberg uses a unique approach, coined Whole Life Strategy, with her clients to help them create structure and strategy to achieve goals. She sees clients in her Houston, Texas office as well her other clients all over the world via skype and email. Life Coach Allison has been profiled in the Huffington Post, written for online psychology and other mental health publications. She has been a keynote speaker as well as the featured Speaker for organizations and companies in Texas as well as other states all over America. Life Coach Allison has made television appearances and been on radio segments . Allison has a degree in Communication from the University of Texas.