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University Counseling Center

What to Expect & Ways to Cope

What to Expect

What can I expect my child to experience?

Your son or daughter will very likely be experiencing a range of emotions as he or she leaves for college. Remember that these emotions, such as joy, anxiety, excitement, and sadness are perfectly normal. During the college years your child will be continuing a process of independence yet also establishing new and intimate connections with friends, faculty, and other mentors. He or she will be exposed to many new ideas and may experiment with new ways of being with friends and with you. Remember that many of these changes are a normal part of growing up. Also remember that every child is different and has his or her own experiences of dealing with the challenges and rewards of college life.

What can I expect to experience as a parent?

Like your child, you can expect to experience a wide range of emotions when your child leaves for college. You may experience a great deal of pride and joy about your child’s achievements. You may experience the joy of new freedom as your child leaves home, as well as sadness at his or her departure and a feeling of being less needed and left out. You also may worry about whether he or she will be able to adjust well to a new life, and you may worry about “losing” your child as he or she experiments with new ideas, behaviors, and relationships. You will likely experience difficulty in giving up some of the parental control you have had in the past. These are normal feelings and ones that are often good to share with other family members and friends.

Ways to Cope

It’s important to take care of yourself as you care for your son or daughter. Consider the following ways to cope with the stress that his or her situation can bring.

Allow yourself to experience your emotions.

It is normal for family members to feel many confusing and conflicting emotions when child leaves home. These feelings can include sadness, guilt, relief, joy, or apprehension. Whatever you are feeling, there is little benefit in pretending these feelings are not there. A healthier approach is to talk about these feelings with family, friends, religious or spiritual support, or some other listener.

Make your own well-being a goal.

During stressful times, it is important that you get enough sleep, eat healthy meals, and get adequate exercise. Spending time doing things that you like is also an important step toward your own well-being. This is the perfect time to find a new outlet.

Remember that coming to the University of Rochester is an important developmental step for your student.

Having a student at UR signals, in part, your success as a parent or guardian. It is a very big step toward adulthood and responsibility for making more independent choices. Be proud of yourself!