What can you expect from your student and college life?
College will offer new opportunities and challenges not only for your
student, but also for your relationship. Below are some examples of what your
student may experience at college. They will help you understand the changing
nature of your relationship with your student.
In college, your student may
- new demands on his/her time,
- encouragement toward independence and an increase in freedom,
- full responsibility of their own education,
- frustrations with administrative details,
- differences in course scheduling (not in class all day or every day),
- desire to try something new or radically different,
- significant differences in relationships with instructors and their
- necessity to actively manage (and increase) study time to achieve the same
- new anxieties about their abilities or future,
- less interaction with you,
- changes in classroom, testing, and grading procedures, and
- social adjustments required by living with a roommate.
How will this impact parents?
These new experiences are a normal part of your student’s development and
because of them, the nature of your relationship with your student is likely to
change. While each relationship is different, you might be aware of some of
- As Saint Joseph’s encourages independence and deals directly with your
student as an adult, you can expect to be less directly involved with the
- As your student begins to become more independent, you may experience strong
negative reaction to parental suggestions.
- As your student faces new challenges or defeats, you might see a need for
more verbal reassurance.
- In adjusting to the demands of college, you might see differences in your
student’s involvement at home and with family.
- As your student finds his/her own way, you may also experience an unusual
mixture of emotions: fear, pride, frustration, abandonment and joy.
What can I do about it?
Despite all the changes your relationship may experience, your student needs
your continuing love, respect, and support. The challenge will be to discover
new ways to let the love and respect come through:
- It may take your student time to adjust to new academic demands. Be patient
and assist in problem-solving as they are ready.
- Encourage your student to discuss the decisions they face.
- Allow student to make their own decisions and be supportive even if results
are not ideal.
- Try to take a “wait and see” attitude toward any new venture.
- Support and encourage good study habits without being too directive.
- Help your student view this time of life as a discovery phase.
- Give freedom to learn how to cope with all that is new.
- In the face of frustrations, give encouragement and support to keep trying.
- Encourage your student to be involved in a few leadership roles.
- Encourage your student to network with a variety of people.
- Know the relationship is shifting, and your best intentions to help your
child grow and take responsibility may sometimes overstep the line or be
ignored. The goal is empowering your college student — which involves caring and
compassion as she or he learns to solve their own problems.
Some of the information was adapted from Louisiana State University at