Preparing for Your First Child Going to College

When your first child goes to college, it can definitely be an emotional roller coaster. You’re up, feeling so proud that your child is taking the next step in their education. You’re down, wondering if you’ve prepared him or her enough to do this alone. You’re up, shopping for all the dorm-life necessities and bonding over towels and toiletries. You’re down, worrying about the imminent dangers of communal bathrooms.

While the drop off and goodbye is sure to be difficult, there are a few things you should know or do that can help make this transition easier.

Staying in touch is easier than ever.

Today, kids have cell phones, text messaging and college-based email addresses to keep connected. Even social media will give glimpses into their daily life and whereabouts. Additionally, most colleges have online resources specifically for parents. You can create an account with the school, access information about your child’s professors and classes, and even read up about current activities on campus.

Prepare for the unexpected.

There are things that are not going to go as you had hoped or planned. Maybe your child didn’t choose the college or path you were hoping for. Maybe the dorm room he or she is assigned to isn’t as nice as the one you toured. Maybe the new roommate doesn’t feel like a great fit. The truth is, this is a good time in life to set your expectations aside and give your child a little freedom to make up their own mind about things.

Talk to other parents.

You are definitely not the only one going through these feelings and emotions. Talk to your child’s friends’ parents and share advice on dealing with this new situation. There can definitely be comfort in commiserating, but you can also celebrate the joy and success your children are feeling.

Focus on siblings.

Your oldest child had the benefit of having you all to himself before any siblings came along. Now it’s the siblings’ turn to get a little more focused attention. Be mindful of their feelings, as they too just said goodbye to their brother or sister. Don’t make them feel second best by moping around all day and “mourning” the loss of your college-bound kid.

Go easy on yourself.

This isn’t just a transition from high school to college, it truly is a shift in life as you know it. So cut yourself a little break and allow a few moments of sadness and grief. Once your child is settled, you will feel more comfortable with the whole situation, and soon you will find new routines to shape your day.

While it may seem like you just gave birth to your first child yesterday, the truth is you’ve essentially been preparing for this moment for 18 years. Have confidence in the guidance and support you’ve provided over the years. And while there will be some ups and downs, hold tightest to the feelings of pride and joy that come along during this phase of life.