It's typical for college students to be anxious their freshman year in college, school counselors report. Even returning students get nervous.
More than 80 percent of college students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do in the past year, according to a study by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Students and parents can prepare ahead of time so they won't feel so overwhelmed. Here are some tips from the pros:
The Big Goodbye: "...recognize your feelings and sort out your emotions before the big departure," parenting expert Michele Borba tells Today. "This is the time to use restraint. It's probably best not to say “What am I going to do without you?”
Parting Advice: Don't save up all of your advice tips for the last-minute. Set aside time before you leave home to quietly go over the big worries. Borba suggests making a list: "Financial matters (like spending money and that credit card); your expectations; how you'll stay in touch; when you'll see each other next; and those safety issues like binge drinking and date rape (most parents say safety is their biggest concern)."
For more help, consider:
- Financial matters: Check with your bank for a reloadable debit card for your child. See if the bank has a branch in or near the town where the college is located. If you can, try to get your child used to using a debit card before college. This Yahoo article has information about several bank cards that cater to students.
- Expectations: Sit down for that talk before heading to college, reviewing your expectations, including that your child graduate in four years with a degree, says a mom on parentsconnect.com. Go over the types of things that can derail a college career: Excessive drinking, drugs, unwelcome sexual activity and plagiarizing.
- How you'll stay in touch: Experts and parents say to mix it up between social media (Facebook, Twitter), Skype, texting, phone calls, actual visits and sending mail (and "care packages" with homemade treats and useful items). Try to set aside a longer meaningful phone call once each week.
- When you'll see each other next: If you have a firm date for parents' weekend, with hotel reservations made, that will make everyone feel more relaxed. Don't forget to book flights early for Thanksgiving and winter break.
- Binge drinking: The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse offers information specifically targeted to college students.
- Date rape: There is general information from Campus Explorer, but you should also check your child's university campus for specific public safety information and services they provide. Here are security features you should look for on campus, according to BestColleges.com.
- Roommate problems: Some advise to bunk with a friend freshman year, someone who isn't your best friend. That way you won't deal with the anxiety of the unknown and you also won't spend every waking moment with your BFF and never meet anyone new. More from this article in US News.
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