Making the First Year Transition: A Parent’s Guide
Ruperto M. Perez, Ph.D.
Director, Counseling Center
The transition that new students make to Georgia Tech is a unique yet common experience for all incoming freshman. What parents sometimes forget is the transition that they experience when their first (or second, or third, or last!) son or daughter leaves for college. The transition for parents can be both a time of anxiety and excitement. During this transition, parents may experience feelings of loss and sadness, which then give way to feelings of questioning how to manage the transition, as well as feelings of excitement over new beginnings. Be assured that these experiences and feelings are common among many parents and families. It is helpful to network with other parents who are also experiencing the same transitions, if only because it helps to know that you’re not the only one experiencing these feelings!
It also helps to be mindful of how roles shift between parents and college students. Here are some tips to help manage the change and strengthen your relationship:
- As a parent, your role shifts to that of an informed consultant rather than that of a hands-on manager of operations;
- Keep a healthy line of communication open, and be mindful of obstacles that may close down communications;
- Continue to be clear about expectations and boundaries; and
- Be a listening ear that empowers the student to solve his or her own problems.
In addition, it can also be helpful to parents to be mindful of these tips:
- Don’t expect a daily phone call or e-mail, and don’t always feel that you have to initiate one. Let your daughter or son know that you trust them and that they can contact you any time they need you.
- Leave a note or card for your student to remind them of words you want them to be able to re-read.
- Be informed about campus resources so that you can consult with your child, but do not make inquiries for them.
- Keep a “nest” for your student at home. Don’t change his or her room immediately.
- Talk about money, sex, the internet, alcohol, and drugs before your student leaves home. Set your expectations and teach your student how to protect him or herself.
The Georgia Tech Counseling Center offers many resources for students and families to help make the transition to Georgia Tech a successful one. We encourage all parents and families to visit our website at http://www.counseling.gatech.edu/. For additional information and frequently asked questions about our services and other helpful information, visit our Frequently Asked Questions.