<2012 aug msg>

Helping Your Child Make a Successful Transition to College

This summer, as high school graduates nervously prepare for their first semester of college, parents, guardians, and other family members will be experiencing some of the same feelings and emotions as their student.  For many, it will be the first or longest period of time your student has lived away from home.  The academic work will be more difficult and he/she will have new independence and responsibility.  And while he or she seems unconcerned, chatting with soon-to-be roommates online or picking out bedding at Target, you may be quietly experiencing equal parts pride, excitement, and worry- some of which is related to the challenges (real or unreal) you anticipate he/she will soon face. 

Some of those anxiety-provoking challenges are ubiquitous to higher education, and yet it probably isn’t as fraught with danger as we believe.  Whether from media portrayal (remember Animal House), our own personal college experiences, or the day-to-day life in a college town, many of us think we know what college students are like, including how much they drink, abuse drugs, and engage in other unsafe activities.  It’s likely your student has an equally extreme view, and for him/her this perception can quickly become an expectation that dramatically influences his/her attitude and choices as he/she negotiates new places and people in the campus milieu.   Because these misperceptions flourish in the world of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, it is essential we partner with our students to think critically about their upcoming transition to college or university. 

As parents and family members, it’s important to keep the following in mind before, during, and after your student’s first days on campus.  Speak openly and honestly with him or her, challenge assumptions, and work together to construct a plan, complete with healthy expectations that will be comfortable for both of you.  The following may be useful to start or include in your discussions with your college-bound student:

1  American College Health Association (2011).  National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Fall 2010.  Linthicum, MD: American College Health Association.   

2  Porter, S. R., & Pryor, J. (2007). The effects of heavy episodic alcohol use on student engagement, academic performance, and time use. Journal of College Student Development, 48, 455-468.


Monthly Messages are brought to you by:

The Community Coalition for Healthy Youth

Each monthly message is provided by coalition board members. If you have further questions or comments about this message or would like information on how to become involved with the Community Coalition for Healthy Youth, please email ahendrix@tompkins-co.org

Thank you in advance for forwarding this monthly message on to all of your networks.


Community Coalition for Healthy Youth

320 W. State/MLK Jr. Street

Ithaca NY 14850