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Taking Some of the Stress Out of College

Hopefully your student headed off to school this semester brimming with excitement and high expectations. And, of course, a bit of trepidation too. As your student adjusts or readjusts to the reality of college life this month, you can expect a range of emotions.

Here's how you can help take some of the stress out of the transition:

  • Listen. Every student adjusts to college differently. If your student is struggling with something that seems unimportant to you, try to keep your feelings out of the equation. Help your student put things into perspective, but validate her concerns and worries too.
  • Encourage your student to be realistic. For many students, the more realistic they are, the easier time they have meeting the challenges that come their way. For example, if your student knows that it's likely that she will be missing home quite a bit over the next few weeks, she may be able to face the sadness head on.
  • Reassure your student that his feelings are common. Your student might feel like he's the only one who isn't fitting in, making new friends or getting along with his roommate like a best pal, but he isn't. Let him know that even students who don't appear to be struggling likely are in some way.
  • Remind your student to stay true to herself. Most college students do some experimenting and almost all try on different personalities as they explore new values and ways of doing things. This is normal. What doesn't have to be normal, however, is your student feeling like she has to change herself in order to fit in. Kindly reiterate this message to your student — it never gets old.
  • Talk about campus resources. Dig through those orientation papers or peruse the school's website to remind yourself about the resources available on campus. Then, remind your student. Let him know that there are people he can go to for help — with his roommate, his classes, his relationships, his athletics and more.

The first six weeks or so of college, especially for a first-year student, are always a transition. As your student adjusts, provide as much support and encouragement as you can.

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