How To Prepare Your Teen for College

It’s the end of the summer and your teen (now young adult) might be ready to leave for college. It’s a transition for all of you. Your teen is leaving the home and starting a new life elsewhere. Meanwhile you and your spouse and the rest of the children learn to live life without them. In some ways, your teen is likely ready to go, ready to leave and enter the big, wide world on their own. And in some ways, they might cling to you as their parents. They may worry about what it’s going to be like without your 24 hour support. They may wonder if they can make it on their own.

To help your teen make it through this transition, here are some tips to consider:

  1. Talk about it. Parents and teens can talk about the differences between living at home and moving out. You might discuss what it has been like at home and what it might be like after a teen leaves. You might also discuss what your teen will need in order to feel safe and comfortable while living on his or her own.
  2. Bring some comforts of home to a teen’s new living arrangement. If you know where your child is going, you can facilitate the transition by driving your child to his or her college dorm or new apartment. You might also bring some of the items in your teen’s room to his or her new home. If you’re teen moves out but it close to home, you can make plans to visit once a month or at least on a regular basis.
  3. Make a plan for psychological safety. If your teen has had challenges with depression, anxiety, or another form of mental illness, then you might also prepare for periods of mental illness when you’re teen is no longer living at home. You might call around for a new psychologist or psychiatrist in the neighborhood where your teen is living. You might also look for the nearest hospital, addiction treatment center (if you’re teen has struggled with addiction in the past), or support group.
  4. Talk with other parents whose teens are leaving home. Lastly, you can talk with other parents of teens with mental illness. Discover what they are doing to facilitate the transition from home to the “real world”.
  5. Make a plan for your teen to visit the family. At the start your teen might be up for this idea. You might plan on your teen coming home once a month, depending on where they live. Or just on major holidays. However, keep in mind that as your teen learns to enjoy their new life away from home, visits might become less frequent. Parents should remember that and not take it personally.

These are tips for easing the transition to college. If your teen is 18 or 19 or 20 years old, then they might be excited about the change. But it’s a change that can come with some challenges. For this reason, consider the above tips.