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Are You Complicating Your Child’s College Transition?

With winter on its way college students only have one thing on their mind:

It’s generally: “When will this semester be over?”

Despite long nights in the library, many underclassmen find themselves reflecting on the past three months and realizing how their parents’ responses to their college transition this fall or even last year complicated their college experience.

While college is one of the most difficult and enjoyable times in a young adult’s life, students face challenges adapting to living on their own away from their family for the first time. The struggles they encounter can help them grow into adults. If not correctly handled, however, the transition can trigger distance among student and parent.

Transitioning to being a college student is difficult. It isn’t just about learning to be responsible; it’s about learning who you are without the guidance of parents.

This is no easy task, and can become especially difficult with parents interfering in students’ day to day life. Parental interference in the college transition is unavoidable, and can sometimes even be positive. There are, however, some transitional mistakes that Westchase college students found particularly straining on both their collegiate and home lives.

Parents and students are regularly told that going home too often is a mistake.

Going home is said to create a toxic cycle in which you either end up getting homesick each time you return, or you never quite find your place at school because you’re consistently at home.

Going home conditions a student to rely on parents and high school friends rather than committing to college life. Parents who are eager to prepare their child for everything don’t necessarily help.

“Having parents who prepare you for college is good, but at a certain point you realize they can’t prepare you for everything,” said Virginia Howell, a University of Florida freshman and Bennington resident.

The issue with going home too often is that it makes parents feel like they can and should do everything for their college student. Simultaneously, students are caught between one world in which they must fend for themselves, and another in which they’re taken care of.

Going home means that mom and dad cook meals, do your laundry, and buy you groceries for back at school. Or they at least have the opportunity to do so, making the student less likely to learn for themselves.

Another common mistake for parents is micromanaging. Even when they aren’t there to monitor their child’s every move, some call and text obsessively to find out.

“Many parents don’t think their kids are capable of managing themselves on their own. They call or text to remind you to do the smallest things,” Brett Steinfeld a UF sophomore and resident of The Fords said. “My mom even called me a couple times last year to remind me to eat.”

While parents have the best interest in these scenarios, students grow quickly annoyed with frequent phone and text reminders. It’s a sign to back off and let the student grow in independence.

Choosing and sticking with a major is one of the biggest challenges college students face, especially when feeling pressure from a parent to stick with something about which they’re not passionate.

“I felt a lot of pressure to stay in a major I didn’t really enjoy because my parents confused the stress associated with that major with being overwhelmed by the whole college transition. They thought that things would get better with time,” Lindsay Peterson, a Georgia Tech sophomore and Greens resident said.

Luckily, these kinds of issues often resolve with time and communication.

“Now that I’ve changed to a degree path I’m more passionate about, I see positive changes in my college life and relationship with my family,” Peterson said.

Although some parental college mistakes are larger, even small assumptions can end up being false.

For instance, most parents and students imagine college dorms to be shoeboxes with hardly enough space for one person, let alone two. Contrary to popular belief, spacious dorm rooms aren’t completely unheard of.

“When I was packing for college I remember my mom telling me not to pack too many clothes. She told me not to bring anything I didn’t need since we assumed I’d have a tiny closet. But when I moved into Springs (a UF dorm), I ended up having a huge closet and even brought clothes back from home to fill up the empty space,” Kristen Gajewski a UF freshman and Harbor Links resident said.

While many students feel their parents made mistakes in the college transition, overall most feel the transition was successful.

“Honestly my mom supported me in getting prepared for college, and although the transition wasn’t easy last year, I think that any tension we may have had then is gone now,” Olivia Granaiola a UF sophomore and Fords resident said.

During the transition to college life, it’s important for parents to keep in mind that mistakes will happen.

Nevertheless, supporting your child through these challenges will decrease tension and make for a happier and more successful college student.

By Julia Andreson

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