Survival Tips For Parents Sending Teens Off To College

The transition to adulthood can be tough for parents and teens alike, but the college drop off can be made easier with these survival tips.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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college drop off

There are plenty of emotional milestones in raising children. For many parents, one of those toughest moments comes when preparing for an empty nest, and sending them off to college. While this new journey can be tough for parents and teens alike, the college drop off can be made easier for everyone involved when certain tips and strategies are followed.

Usually, the great unknown of leaving for college is harder on the parents than it is on the children. This is especially true for parents of only children, or those who are sending off the last of the clan, leaving the house void of children. For families making the college drop off hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, fears can be particularly escalated. 

Parents can make this big transition easier on their mental state by preparing for it long in advance. If possible, experts advise parents to begin preparing for the transition early on in the high school years. Vicki Nelson, the founder of College Parent Central, talks about making this change from being a caregiver to a coach. She suggests gradually shifting gears a few years before the college drop off so that it’s not such a blow when the day comes.

Coaching from the sidelines is a great reference when suggesting how parents can ease worries and fears during the college drop-off process. Helicopter parenting is near impossible for children heading off to school, so getting used to this style beforehand is a must. After all, this is the perfect time to prepare teenagers for adult life, and being there to guide and advice them is crucial, but making sure they learn how to thrive on their own will benefit them for their entire life.

Parents and incoming college students feel the most at ease about the college drop off when they are adequately prepared. This means that both parties should study up on college life and discover all the college campus will have to offer, including meal plans, health and safety access, and dorm life. Make sure to attend as many campus orientations, tours, and other offerings to get well accustomed to how the college or university will operate. 

Sticking with preparation, scheduling times that parents and new college-bound young adults will “catch up” can also make the college drop off transition run more smoothly. Starting off without a plan can lead to tension and unnecessary stress on worried parents. Without schedules, many parents end up left on read sending an abundance of unanswered texts to their teens struggling to cope with the new life. Because of this, parents and children should sit down before leaving the home to agree upon frequency, times of day, and methods of expected communication. 

college drop off

Oftentimes, parents suffer from a sort of shell shock when they are unable to deal with the extreme lifestyle change that comes with having children out of the house. Because of this, finding outlets and support groups can help after the college drop off. Connecting with other parents who are also now living the empty nester lifestyle can be a great coping method. Likewise, online support groups like Grown & Flown or Collegiate Parents offer small Facebook communities for parents to connect. 

Parents often prepare and dread the college drop off day from the moment children are born. No matter how well prepared families may be, the transition and college drop off will always come with some level of anxiety. Above all, parents should remember to give themselves credit for how far they have come in the crazy journey of parenthood.