Five Tips for Parents of New College Freshmen

MoveinIf you’re a parent preparing to send your son or daughter off to be a freshman in college, congratulations.  This is one of those things you’ve likely dreamed about doing since you first became a parent, and now it’s about to happen. 

Every year about this time, we send our Collegewise parents a list of 5 things they can do to help their kids make the transition to college.  This year, we thought we’d use our blog to share the list with any parent who might benefit.  We hope you’re excited to watch your kids go from happy and successful high school graduates to happy and successful adults. 

Five Tips for Parents of New College Freshmen

1.  Buy yourself a sweatshirt with the college’s name on it. 

Nothing says “I’m proud of you” to a college freshman quite like seeing her mother proudly decked out in the school’s colors.  That’s why every parent of a college freshman should own at least one college sweatshirt.  Buying and wearing college paraphernalia shows kids that you’re happy for them.  And the more excited you are about college, the more excited your son or daughter will be, too. 

2.  Plan some care package surprises.

Kids who get regular care packages from home are the envy of their new dorm friends. And nothing makes a college freshman’s day quite like checking his mail to find that a box has arrived from home.  You can send anything your son or daughter might need or enjoy—sweets, a roll of quarters for doing laundry, or the new video game to enjoy with the roommates.  What you put in the box doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that you’re sending it along.

3.  Communicate regularly via email.

It’s the age of technology, and email will likely be the best way to communicate with your son or daughter during college.  That’s not to say that phone calls won’t be appreciated, but college freshmen love looking in their inboxes to find a message from home.  If you don’t yet have your own email address, you can get one for free at

4.  Plan to attend a "Family Weekend" if one is offered. 

Many schools designate particular weekends for parents to visit and see for themselves how college is treating their kids.  While college kids enjoy their independence and don’t always want parents showing up, family weekends are an exception.  Check the college’s website to see if any such program is offered.

5.  Let them find their own way.

It’s not entirely reasonable to expect that after eighteen years of daily contact, a parent can drop a student off at college and just let her take care of herself.  But that’s what college kids need you to do.  It’s important that parents resist the urge to attempt to manage their kids’ college lives.

Parenting never stops; you just have to do it a little differently now.  But don’t worry.  If you didn’t know a thing or two about good parenting, you probably wouldn’t be preparing to take your son or daughter to college right now.  Trust your instincts, try not to worry too much, and enjoy the college years.