College Survival Guide (For Parents)

by Kimberly Hickok

What a weird feeling! This is the first Fall that I will not be sending a kid off to school. Our youngest graduated from college this past May. It’s a liberating feeling (no more tuition!) but also the signal of a new chapter in life.

Yay!!!! No more tuition!!! #classof2017 #fredonia #collegegrad

A post shared by Kimberly Hickok (@khickok) on

If you’re sending your first kid off to college and are having a hard time with it, please know that YOU WILL BE FINE! And, more importantly, so will your precious bundle of joy.

Here are my favorite tips for transitioning from hands-on daily parenting to parenting from afar.

  1. Don’t put too much pressure on your child to be in constant contact with you. This is their time to make new friends and figure out who they are. That being said, do send them a text now and then to ask how things are going. For some reason, they seem to respond to texts better than calls. And if you really want to speak to them, schedule Facetime or other visual communication method late at night.
  2. When they DO call, don’t speak. Let them talk and talk and talk then speak. Many times they just want to be heard and if they’re homesick, you don’t have to fix it. It’s okay for them to be homesick. Let them know you, too, have been in situations where you struggled fitting in or felt out of place or were homesick.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff. They are likely wearing ‘dirty’ clothes and they are definitely NOT SORTING their laundry. My kid told me he just threw it all in the machine and used Tide Pods and Shout Color Catchers in each load. So, yeah, you might even learn something new . . .
  4. Have the talk about alcohol, drugs and sex *again*. My neighbor is a police officer on a college campus and he told our family that nearly all college expulsion offenses happen when alcohol is involved. Also trust that your child has likely been exposed to alcohol, drugs and sex in high school and they have a good head on their shoulders. They may make a mistake but you’re there to support them.
  5. Connect your bank accounts so you can easily transfer funds to your student.
  6. Get an Amazon Prime account. You can have multiple family members with different addresses on the account. It’s great for text book rentals and sending necessities – like snacks – to your child.

Now what about you? If you have other children at home, then you’ll have your hands full with them. If you don’t, take time to do something for yourself. Join a book club. Take a cooking class. Volunteer.

Do something to fill your time so that when the day eventually comes. That day when your nest is truly empty, you’re not empty.

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