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A new kind of relationship

Diane Schwemm

Change can be exciting but it can also be scary. One of the biggest changes that can happen in a family is when a child goes to college.

During this transition from high school to college, it’s natural for both students and their families to have mixed emotions. Even as we are very happy for the new experiences that our students will have, and proud of them for taking on this challenge, we may worry about how it will change them and our relationship.

The relationship will change, but this doesn’t mean you won’t stay close or that family isn’t still important to your student. You and the other support people in your student’s life have played a key role in their upbringing. You helped them achieve their goal of high school graduation and applying to college. You are equally important now as you support your student in navigating the many new challenges of college and committing themselves to doing everything they need to complete their degree program.

A few things it helps to remember:

  • Your college student is responsible for making their own decisions now but will still turn to you for advice. If there is something you don’t understand about how college works, ask them! They will be happy to trade roles and teach you something new.
  • You should have high expectations for your student’s academic achievements, but it usually takes students a while to adjust to the harder college workload. They may be disappointed with their first semester or two of grades. Help them keep things in perspective and not put too much pressure on themselves.
  • If your student struggles academically in college, or has any kind of personal setback (health, work, relationships, etc.), there are many resources for them. They can find the help they need to solve their problem.
  • Your student may develop new views and opinions as a result of all their new experiences. This doesn’t mean that the values they grew up with don’t still matter to them, but on some issues you may find that you need to “agree to disagree.”
Diane Schwemm is Senior Editor and Content Manager at CollegiateParent and the mom of three young adult children in their twenties. She lives in Boulder, Colorado and loves books, gardening, hiking and most of all spending time with her new grandson.
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