If your child has never lived away from home before, moving to college will be a challenging and stretching experience for the whole family. Change is hard, even when it’s for a good reason. Many college students struggle with feelings of loneliness and overwhelm during their first few semesters at school.
Thankfully, there are several ways to prepare your kids for the emotional challenges of going to college. These tips will help your child persevere through the tough times they’ll face at school. Here are eight things you can share with your kiddo heading to college.
You’re Here to Learn
Although some college freshmen already know what they want to do after school, many others don’t have a clue. If your child is worried about finding their way, remind them that college is meant to be a process and a learning experience.
As students take classes, talk to professors and try different internships, they’ll learn more about themselves and what they want to do in the future. Perfectionism and a fear of failure will only inhibit your child from reaching their full potential while at school.
Heading To College? You’re Not Alone
Almost all college freshmen deal with feelings of loneliness and inadequacy during their first few semesters. It can be really helpful for your child to hear that they’re not alone in feeling that way. Everyone feels overwhelmed when they move to a new place and don’t know anyone.
Your child is also not the first student to feel overwhelmed by coursework or uncertain about how to manage their time. One of the smartest things that they can do is express their feelings and ask for help. With perseverance, their emotions will settle and they’ll start to develop their own sense of security.
You Can Relax
Young people feel an immense amount of pressure to figure out their lives. This pressure can come from many different sources, such as parents, teachers, friends and social media. Your student may also be putting a lot of pressure on themselves.
Experiencing pressure at college is normal because discomfort, uncertainty and anxiety are high in new environments. Let your child know that they can relax and take off the pressure. Figuring out your life is supposed to take time and it’s not something students have to know before their first semester.
You’re Not a Machine
Many college students push themselves until they’re completely worn out. Unfortunately, ignoring physical needs makes mental health worse. A 2019 survey of American college students suggested that approximately 60% of students felt “overwhelming anxiety” while at school.
Remind your child that they’re not meant to function like a machine. To do well in their studies and stay emotionally healthy, they need to sleep. Both nutrition and exercise are important for good mental health and a body that’s functioning well.
You Have Options
It’s very important for college students to know they’re not stuck. If they hate their major, they can change it. If they head to school and realize there are significant holes in curriculum and student life, they can switch campuses.
Commitment is important, but so is flexibility. College isn’t for everyone and some people just detest it. What your student has to decide is whether their dream career is worth the time taking college courses. They always have options and they don’t have to stay stuck.
Your Choices Matter
When your child goes to college, they’ll realize just how many things in life are out of their control. This can be overwhelming and cause a lot of anxiety for young people. However, the one thing that students have control over is their own choices.
Let them take some time to learn about themselves and explore their interests. Help them find out more about their plans – the first job may not be the one they will stay at forever, and they may even end up changing career paths. This can give them a sense of direction and purpose and remind them that they are responsible for their future.
Every decision your child makes is an investment for their future. If they go to sleep on time, they’ll have energy the next day. When they follow a study schedule, their grades will improve. By taking control of their habits, students can reduce anxiety and invest in a good future.
You Need Other People
When people are overwhelmed, they tend to isolate themselves. However, isolation makes all your problems seem bigger and only makes everything worse. While personal effort is important, your student needs to know that they shouldn’t try to reach their goals alone.
One man trying to jump over a wall won’t get very far. However, three men working together can get over a lot faster and with less injury. Remind your child that their need for community isn’t a personal weakness – in fact, it’s the key to resilience and strength.
You Are Enough
College is a much bigger pool of people than high school. For many students, college aggravates personal insecurities about not being enough in some way – not smart enough, not pretty enough, not interesting enough to make friends.
Encourage your child just to be themselves. Their genuine personality will attract the right friends and lead to the right opportunities over time. Yes, college is an opportunity to push yourself and grow. However, your child doesn’t need to conform, compare themselves or please other people to succeed.
Letting Your Child Go
One of the primary goals of parenting is to equip your children to go out on their own. Although the process of letting your children grow up is painful, it’s essential for their future success. It’s important to give your children autonomy and push them to stand on their own.
College is a good opportunity for young people to learn more about themselves and build the confidence to face their futures. Use this list of eight tips to reduce your student’s anxiety and equip them for the emotional upheaval that accompanies change. They’ve got this and so do you.