Tips for Parents With College-Bound Teens

Sending your teen off to college for the first time is a significant milestone for the entire family.

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.
LightFieldStudios / Getty Images
LightFieldStudios / Getty Images

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

In addition to preparing them for the responsibilities that come with college and independence, parents should discuss how to manage distractions as well as expectations.

Sure, there are indicators of success. However, many young adults who are expected to excel, fail miserably when they run into the many stressors that occur in college settings.

College students who are accustomed to frequent monitoring at home are overwhelmed when they get on campus and often don’t seek help until it’s too late. What’s more, parents and their teenagers don’t always focus on sharpening the emotional skills that will serve them well in their new environment.

Teens starting college need to develop self-awareness and what it takes for them to succeed in life — academically, emotionally, and socially — and how to make that happen.
How do parents begin this process?

Evaluate how much monitoring and support your teen has from you and other adults.

  • For example, are they getting themselves ready for school daily, or are you? That is, do you wake them up, do their laundry, run their errands, make their appointments?
  • Are you filling out their college applications and financial aid forms?
  • Do they have tutors, therapists or a disability?
  • Do they spend most of their time with a support team in school?
  • Are you primarily responsible for making sure they are meeting their responsibilities? Deadlines?
  • Are you constantly reminding or monitoring their time and activities?

Find time to talk to them.

  • Tell them that starting college can be a major adjustment and for them to be ready they need to begin taking responsibility for their own obligations.
  • Tell them what they will need to foster their own independence. Brainstorm with your teen on what they can begin doing for themselves that they are used to you doing for them.
  • Discuss creating a new support team on campus that mirrors the support they feel they are presently receiving.
  • Ask if they have any worries or concerns about going off to college. Listen to their concerns, brainstorm for solutions, obtain information. Talk to a professional in the field now when they are still in your “orbit.”
  • Get the facts. For resources on challenges at college as well as a successful transition, visit

Lastly, parents need to normalize their teens’ feelings while keeping abreast of changes in sleeping habits, appetites, level of energy, concentration, mood, socialization, and substance use. If they’re living on campus, get the phone numbers of their roommate as well as the resident advisor. Above all, trust your gut reaction and consult a mental health professional on campus or someone you trust locally when you sense problems.

Originally published at

Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.

More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Verne Ho / Unsplash
    Thrive Global on Campus//

    What College Students Sometimes Keep From Their Parents

    by Maureen Price Tillman
    Billion Photos / Shutterstock
    Thrive Global on Campus//

    Add Student Mental Health to Your College Checklist

    by Lee Swain, Laura Horne
    Veja/ Shutterstock
    Thrive Global on Campus//

    How High School Students Can Prepare for the Stress of College, According to an Expert

    by Dr.B. Hibbs
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.