The Importance of Parental Support During the First Year of College (page 2)

By and — Diversity in Education Special Edition Contributor
Updated on May 17, 2010

What Can Parents Do To Help Children Adjust To College?

Our findings show that college students still value the support they receive from their parents. However, it can be challenging for parents to figure out how to support their children once they leave for college, partly due to the physical distance between them. Parents need to learn how to support, communicate, and interact with their adult children in new ways.
Some strategies you can use to support your son or daughter during college include: 
  • Accompany your child to new student orientation and visit throughout the semester.
  • Provide ongoing support by emailing, texting, calling, and sending letters and care packages.
  • Show interest by asking questions about your child’s college experiences. For example, ask about his favorite classes, what he likes most about college, and if he has joined student organizations or met new people. 
  • Even if you are unable to pay for college tuition, try to cover expenses like books, groceries, or everyday necessities.
  • Have a conversation with your child and ask her how she would like to be supported once she leaves for college. This can begin a dialogue with your child so the relationship can best meet each of your changing needs.
  • Encourage your child to solve his own problems. Help him to set his own goals, make responsible decisions, and accept responsibility for the consequences of those decisions.
  • Encourage your child to spend time on campus rather than pressuring her to frequently return home.  
  • Focus more on providing support for, rather than receiving support from, your children. 

*The findings from this study are based on research previously published in Yazedjian, A., Purswell, K. E., Sevin, T., & Toews, M. L. (2007). Adjusting to the first year of college: Students’ perceptions of the importance of parental, peer and institutional support. The Journal of the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, 19(2), 29-46.


Duchesne, S., Ratelle, C. F., Larose, S., & Guay, F. (2007). Adjustment trajectories in college science programs: Perceptions of qualities of parents’ and college teachers’ relationships. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54, 62-71.

Gottlieb, B. H., Still, E., & Newby-Clark, I. R. (2007). Types and precipitants of growth and decline in emerging adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22, 132-155.

Seiffge-Krenke, I. (2006). Leaving home or still in the nest? Parent-child relationships and psychological health as predictors of different leaving home patterns. Developmental Psychology, 42, 864-876.

Zarrett, N., & Eccles, J. (2006). The passage to adulthood: Challenges of late adolescence. New Directions for Youth Development, 111, 13-28.

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