Helping Your Teen Mentally Prepare for College
August is the time when families are preparing to send their teen off to college. With all of the preparations, what can be overlooked is anticipating and having conversations about the challenges ahead, especially for freshman. Whether they are living on campus or commuting to school, it can be a stressful time for youth.
“Although they make not show it, or want to discuss, they may be feeling overwhelmed, scared and having separation anxiety,” says Jessica Haurin, LPC, Program Therapist, Adolescent Supportive Housing. “It is a big milestone in their lives, and with it can come a wide range of mixed emotions.”
There are many ways you and your freshman can get through the transition. Here are 6 helpful tips:
- Start the conversation. Talk to your teen about the upcoming school year. Ask them what they are looking forward to the most and what concerns they may have. Open communication is important.
- Make connections early. Encourage your teen to connect ahead of time with their roommate or friends they might know who are attending the same school. Knowing they will see familiar faces or have a connection to others when they arrive can ease the anxiety.
- Bring memories. Prepare a family photo album together to bring to college. Seeing these pictures when at school can help ease loneliness and anxiety.
- Get involved. Joining a club, participating in a fundraiser the school is hosting, or joining a sports team are all great ways to make new friends and keep busy.
- Ask for help. Remind your teen that there is no shame in asking for help at school. Emphasize that asking for help is a sign of strength, not a weakness. Suggest a visit to the college’s counseling center. There are experts there willing to help.
- Stay positive for your teen. We all know this can be a trying time for parents, but it’s important to not let your teen see you nervous or overly sad, as that can make their emotions even worse. Keep encouraging them and remove negativity.
“It’s important that your teen’s expectations of going off to college are realistic so that the challenges and feelings they are having during this new stage in their lives are understood as being normal,” adds Haurin.
If you feel your college aged kid is feeling overwhelmed or anxious and could benefit from additional support in preparation for the school year ahead, our clinicians are available to help. Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632 x9500) for more information about our counseling and telehealth services for children and teens.