What to Know Before College: For Moms, Dads, and Students



Going to college is stressful—for parents and students. The following are the lessons my parents and I share with you that we have learned through fall semester, 2017– June 2018 at UNC-Chapel Hill and at home.

FOR MOM AND DAD:

1.   YOUR DAYS OF PARENTING ARE NOT OVER

There is a transition when your child enters college. Your parenting just has to shift with that transition. As independent as college students are, they still need you—to help them set financial budgets, to tell them about health insurance and car insurance, to call and catch up every now and then.

There is also a transition when your child comes home from college. Your child has been living on his/her own for almost a year. He/she has learned to become more mature and independent. You must allow some of that independence and maturity to reveal itself now.

2. THEY WILL BE FINE

College is an exciting time!  While it can be easy to worry about children being truly independent and responsible for themselves for the first time, they are in no danger. They are paving their own path and becoming their own people—one mistake at a time.

FOR STUDENTS:

1.   YOU DON’T NEED IT ALL

When I packed for fall semester my freshman year of college, I thought I needed it all: a large meal plan, my entire wardrobe, a notebook for each class. You name it. I had it. I found that I didn’t use my entire meal plan, I didn’t wear half of the clothes I brought, and pretty much all of my classes preferred we use laptops to submit assignments and take notes. Less is more. You don’t need it all.

2. YOUR FRIEND GROUP WILL CHANGE

Who you hang out with will change simply because you will change. College is a time for you to mature and grow as an individual. You may find that you’ve grown out of the people you grew up with.

Who you hang out with is also easy to change because it’s easier to find new friends in college. There is what feels a million people at your school. If you don’t like your current friend group because they’re too mean or they aren’t interested in what you’re interested in, there are new people everywhere you turn that you can make friends with.

3. COLLEGE IS FUN

While, yes, the ultimate goal of college is to study, you should allow yourself time to enjoy the college experience. There’s so much more to learn about than what comes from your books. Be social and don’t be afraid to give up an hour of study time to enjoy the campus life.


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