Transition to College: Separation and Change for Parents and Students
Going to college is more than just "going back to school." The departure is a significant milestone in the life of a family and ushers in a time of separation and transition, requiring an adjustment on the part of parents, the college-bound teenager, and the whole family.
College students today
Who goes to college?
Almost 64% of the high school graduating class of 2003 were enrolled in colleges or universities, with women outpacing men (66.5% vs. 61.2%).1 With regard to ethnicity, 84.1% of Asian graduates, 65% of white graduates, 58.3% black graduates and 58.6% Hispanic graduates went on to college1.
College and careers
Students are apt to find their parents were right when advising them to get a college degree or at least obtain additional education after high school. In fact, those with a college degree will earn $500,000 more over a lifetime than their non-degree peers, and even technical jobs will require advanced learning of some kind. But college isn't the end of learning and students don't necessarily have to have only one set career goal in mind. It's fine to use college as a way to explore areas of interest while keeping in mind that the average worker holds 9.2 different jobs between the ages of 18 and 34.2
College and finances
Financing higher education is still a source of stress for many college bound students and their families and students themselves are pitching in. According to one survey, 83% of high school students expect to have a job while attending college or vocational school, and 50% of college students end up working 25 hours/week and 30% work full time. This added burden of working to earn money is cited as necessary to help pay for college.3
Adjusting to college life
The stress levels of college students have been rising since 1985. In one 1999 survey of 683 colleges and universities conducted in the first days of school by the University of California at Los Angeles, 30.02% of the freshmen acknowledged feeling frequently overwhelmed, almost double the 1985 rate. The increased number of students feeling stressed has been accompanied by an increase in utilization of mental health and counseling services; one institution reported a 29% increase in the use of counseling and psychological services in the last 4 years and another reported that 40% of the first-year students visit their counseling center.4
Reprinted with the permission of the NYU Child Study Center. © NYU Child Study Center.
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