Family Matters: Making the Transition to College

The transition to college is a very exciting time, but it also can be stressful for both parents/guardians and students. Here are a few reminders:

Transition to College

For students:

  • Time Management — Because college can be more demanding than high school, plan to devote more time to reviewing notes from class and reading assigned chapters prior to going to class. It's also best to note when midterms and exams will be, so you can work towards those dates on your calendar!
  • Exploring — Take time to walk into West Chester and get a feel for everything that the Borough has to offer.
  • Socializing — It can be fun to meet your roommate(s) and others on the floor or in your building. Just remember that some people thrive on social interaction while others may struggle with that, so please be kind to one another.
  • Independence — Now that you're on your own, you may feel the need to test your limits. This applies to making good choices about sleep, nutrition, drinking, etc.
  • Resources — Be sure to familiarize yourself with the multitude of resources on WCU's campus. There are hundreds of student organizations to consider joining. There is also a Learning Assistance and Resource Center, Student Health Services and a Counseling Center, should you need assistance.
  • Faculty — Be sure to use your faculty members' office hours so they get to know you. This is a great way to get specific questions answered and to clarify your academic and career goals.
  • Stress — Please be aware that some amount of stress and anxiety is normal. You are in a new setting with new people and new challenges. You can do this!

For parents/guardians:

  • Letting go — Recognize that you have had these young adults under your guidance for about 18 years, so trust that your student will now be on their own. You've instilled in them the values that you hold, but now some of those values may be questioned. That's normal – they are gaining new information and views and they will make their own decisions based on all of this. It is not a rejection of you – it is them becoming their own person.
  • Because they've been on their own for a few months, remember that when they return after fall semester, you may notice some changes. They've had some freedom and their time has been their own. That is not to say that when they return home they can do whatever they want, but ideally it sets the stage for some discussion and compromise about the changes each of you have been experiencing during those months.
  • If you've always been the homework police, now is the time to stop! College students have personal responsibility for their academic work and they need to take initiative and invest in their obligations. That means that they are solely responsible for completing their assignments, submitting work in a timely manner, and owning their successes or failures.
  • When they call you upset because a relationship has not worked out, or they didn't get the class section they wanted, or they think they want to change their major, this is the time for you to listen. Help them reflect on a time when they struggled with a decision and have them recall how it turned out. If it didn't go as planned, what did they learn from that experience? If it worked out well, can they apply that same thinking to the current situation? As new conflicts arise, students need to learn how to cope and trust themselves in their decisions. They will build confidence with each success and their independence will flourish.
  • They are becoming independent adults but they may still need your support. While you may not always approve of what they do, we hope you will accept them no matter what. Be there when they need you – show support and understanding – but let them learn from their mistakes.
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