How is my child doing?

During any particular day or week, your son or daughter may seem to be handling everything wonderfully. You may wonder "Why was I so concerned?" Then again, the next time you talk to him or her, they might paint a completely different picture. "I hate it here!". "I don't have what it takes". "I'm not like the other students." These are very common concerns and feelings expressed by students. Just keep in mind that with any change, there is always a period of adjustment. And with adjustment, there may be both excitement and distress. Remind your daughter/son that these are common feelings, and share with them how their existing strengths will help them get through this period of adjustment.

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How can I tell if my daughter/son is in distress?

As mentioned in the previous answer, there is a normal period of adjustment to college that includes both excitement and stress. Sometimes this adjustment can be as long as 6 months to a year. However, if over time you notice that your daughter or son is not coping well (e.g., is not acting like her/his "normal self," grades are declining, withdrawal from family and friends), you may consider suggesting that she/he seek assistance from a psychologist at Counseling Services. You may click on one of the topic areas listed below to learn more about some of the more common issues faced by many college students:

You may also visit our Self Help Library for information about a variety of other topics relevant to college students.

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How am I doing with the change?

It is not uncommon for parents to experience the well known "empty nest" syndrome when their daughter/son leaves for college. They may have feelings of sadness, loss of control, and concern for what their children may be exposed to at a large university.

At the same time, many parents may feel conflicted when these feelings are mixed with excitement that comes with possibly having more independence and time. It is common to feel a wide range of emotions with this new change - from happy to sad. As is the case with your daughter/son, the adjustment to change can be difficult and may take some time. Feeling sad during this transition, however, should not prevent you from taking care of yourself. Consider viewing this change as an opportunity to focus on what you really like to do.

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What can I expect over the next few years?

Parents can consider developing an adult relationship with their daughter/son. This is a new and important way of connecting with her/him, as it recognizes and acknowledges the transition of your student from child to adult. This will convey to your daughter/son that you are aware and appreciate this transition, as well as provide opportunities to relate to them in new ways. As they transition to adulthood, keep in mind that your daughter or son may not want to share every detail of their lives with you at all times. Though this may not be what you would like or are used to, it is actually developmentally appropriate as your student gains a greater sense of identity and self.

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How can I provide support for my student?

Providing support now will not be drastically different from how you have been doing it. Listening, communicating, and sharing are all important ingredients in letting your student know you care. Relaying these messages in a way that acknowledges the adult-to-adult relationship can build an even stronger bond. Again, keep in mind that at times they may not want to share everything with you - this is normal. But making sure they know that you care is the key (e.g., sharing your views on difficult topics, providing encouragement during times of stress, etc.). A balance of advice, encouragement, independence, and room to make mistakes can be important in conveying our support AND respect.

Though your daughter or son, may not request it, it is important that you keep in touch. Have a plan for keeping in touch. Care packages, phone calls, e-mails, pictures of special events (both at school and family fun) may be some of the nice things you can do for each other to show you may be out of sight but not out of mind.

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What resources are available for me and my daughter/son?

There are many resources available to you and your daughter or son. It is helpful for parents to be familiar with our services at University Counseling Services, as well as available Campus Resources. This way if your son or daughter needs some type of assistance, you will at least have some basic understanding of the University system and what is available for students.

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Freshman Year Experience