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Dear College Senior: You Don't Have to Have Everything Figured OutElizabeth Spencer
When your high school senior received their college admission letter, you were over the moon — excited, proud and relieved. But even in the midst of the celebration, questions began to bubble up. When is orientation and how do we register? What about the logistics of move-in, and class registration?
And perhaps most important: What does it mean to be the parent of a college student?
Your student is the one making the biggest life change this fall, but the fact is the whole family experiences the transition to college.
Throughout high school, you attended parent-teacher conferences, built relationships with your student’s coaches and club advisors, and hosted their friends in your home. As your son or daughter makes the shift to college, independently creating a life on campus, your role as parent will change. You will step to the sidelines and become more of a coach. Whether you’ve been preparing for this or it feels a bit shocking, give yourself time and grace as you adjust.
Family members focus on supporting their student, which can mean that they miss tending to themselves and their own transition. Your emotions may range from “I can’t wait for them to leave!” to “I’m not sure how I’ll cope with the changes in our family” and everything in between.
Early on, identify a support network that provides a safe space for you to talk through your feelings. If you’re in a two-parent household, recognize that you and your spouse or partner may have different feelings about your student going to college, or experience them at different times.
Your support has been essential to your student's success and will continue to be key throughout college. Over the summer, take time to appreciate this achievement as a family. Plan to celebrate with your student, extended family, and their friends. Be sure to discuss any goals or priorities your student has for their summer break so you can successfully manage expectations and honor their wishes.
It’s time to celebrate with the perfect gift for your new grad!