What to Expect When Your Student Comes Home for the Summer

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Parents often face a significant adjustment when their college-age student returns home for the summer.

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What to Expect When Your Student Comes Home for the Summer


Parents often face a significant adjustment when their college-age student returns home for the summer. This has been in incredible academic year, fraught with many changes and shifts due to Covid-19 and other local and national events. Your student is probably excited about coming home but also likely feels anxious and worried about what’s next regarding summer jobs, internships, travel, or plans after graduation. You will be looking forward to spending time with your student and catching up on their lives and their academic progress. This time can be emotional if your expectations differ from those of your student. During this time of transition, communication is one of the most valuable tools you have. 


Students returning home often have mixed feelings. Some enjoy returning to the familiar routine and security of home; others have become very independent in college and behave in ways that are reflective of their new values and beliefs. You may experience difficulty if you don’t acknowledge that students do change. The personal development is tremendous during the late adolescent years.


Here are some tips to help smooth the transition for everyone:

• Set expectations. Setting boundaries can help build a healthy relationship with your student, help promote healthier and enjoyable interactions. It allows your student to establish their own identity outside of child/parent interactions and decreases anxiety and resentment. Be clear about your expectations and set clear boundaries for your home. Start by asking yourself, “What are the expectations that I have for my returning student?” An example could be: letting you know when they plan to be home or a commitment to taking on household chores. It may be that you expect them to operate the same way that they did before they left home. No matter what your expectations are, they should be outlined explicitly with your student. 
• Be respectful. Another question to ask yourself “How do I respect my student while ensuring they respect the rules of the house?” Be clear and concise on rules, what you need, and the tone of your voice. Have a conversation with them and not at them. Include your student and give them space to identify their needs. Allow a negotiation when your expectations are flexible. Consider your goals in the interaction and what the consequences may be. 
• Remember that your student needs a mental break. Plan to make the summer as relaxing and stress-free as possible for all of you. Ask your student to tell you about friendships, reflect on classes, and share new routines as well as any problems they may be experiencing their own place. Keep in mind that your student may not feel happy, despite the relief and exhilaration you might expect. 
• Keep in mind that your student is likely fatigued. They have studying for final exams and projects over the past few weeks and the cumulative impact of the pandemic stress may catch up with them. Expect that your student will need to spend more time than usual sleeping and eating. It is reasonable to anticipate that your routine will be adjusted. 
• Recognize that your student is an emerging adult. They have gained some independence over the past year but is still a child in other ways. Your student may bring home laundry for you to wash and look forward to those home-cooked meals but also balk at curfews and other restrictions imposed by you. Ask your student about their preferences for how to spend time with the family while also maintaining normal routines and traditions so that your student will feel secure. 
• Consider your own adjustment, especially if the family dynamic has changed. You may have re-modeled your student’s bedroom or become accustomed to fewer disruptions or responsibilities at home. Prepare your student for any changes prior to their arrival at home and steady yourself for any reactions to having your student back in the house.


Your student’s return home for the summer may be an exciting but stressful time. Enjoy this time and recognize it as a major milestone in your student’s development and growth. Embrace this time as a major turning point for you as a parent.


Information on the Center for Assessment, Referral and Education (CARE)
404-894-3498, care.gatech.edu

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  • Created By: tbarker30
  • Workflow Status: Draft
  • Created On: May 3, 2021 - 2:34pm
  • Last Updated: May 3, 2021 - 3:49pm