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Parental tips for recognizing the transition to college

Tips on supporting lifestyle adjustments and encouraging your student to use time-management and problem-solving skills.


College is the first time most students experience total responsibility for their education. Although your student certainly has the aptitude to do well in college, he or she may not be used to accepting responsibility for completing assignments and knowing the semester due dates without reminders from instructors or parents. It is essential for students to read through all materials provided by their professors and to establish their own method for keeping up with tests and assignments. Students should be encouraged to develop a study schedule and to attend all classes. For additional academic help, students may to seek academic support for advising, disability services or peer tutoring. Visit www.elon.edu/advising for more information.


Living with a new person is a great opportunity to recognize, accept and adjust to individual differences. Students’ relationships with their roommates will no doubt be different than the relationships they have with friends. Encourage your student to communicate common living concerns such as preferred level of cleanliness, noise level, study habits and nighttime etiquette. Ultimately, sharing a close living space with another person allows students to recognize the impact of their actions on their environment. If conflict develops, students should ask their RA to sit in on a discussion to resolve the conflict.

Empower Your Student

Elon’s faculty and staff members will be empowering your student inside and outside the classroom. If your student knows that you are supportive of their “real world” experiences they will be more likely to succeed. Your student is always going to look to you for approval so it is essential that you empower your student to see a bigger world.

Preparing for Final Exams

The end of the first semester can be particularly challenging as final tests and projects rapidly approach their due date. A moderate level of stress before and during an exam is useful, as it helps students perform at their peak. Too much stress can keep a student from being able to focus at the task at hand. If your student is feeling overwhelmed by upcoming final exams, encourage him or her to keep these tips in mind:

  • Manage time well: get plenty of sleep, find time to exercise or be active, and schedule time to study
  • Focus on healthy behaviors: eat regular meals, drink water and other non-alcoholic beverages, choose healthy snacks (excessive sugar can cause drowsiness), and limit caffeine (it increases anxiety)
  • Study in places that have minimal distractions
  • Join a study group
  • Attend all review sessions offered by the professor
  • Take notes of notes and chapters, use flash cards, or try to condense notes each time you review for the next review

Home for the Holidays

Most students are eager to return home for an extended break from college. They look forward to enjoying the comfort and privacy of their old rooms, their favorite home-cooked meals, and having time for much-needed rest and reunions with old friends. Some students, however, may be sad to leave their new friends, their Elon home, as well as the excitement and freedom of college life. Remember not to take their mixed emotions about being home for the break personally; it is all a part of the college transition. Students may balk at family obligations and curfews, and parents may be disappointed by how much time they actually see their college student. The following tips may help improve their time at home:

  • Acknowledge that your student’s habits may have changed. Talk to him or her about these changes ahead of the visit.
  • Discuss expectations for the visit. If you are planning an event that requires your student’s participation, give advanced notice.
  • Talk to your student about “home rules” and what adjustments you can make now that he or she is in college. Start with the rules in place when your student left, and discuss with your student appropriate updates now that he or she is more independent.
  • Prepare your family. The adjustment can be challenging for siblings who’ve become accustomed to the new home environment.
  • Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of by catering to your student. Acknowledging independence can free parents of taking care of every need.
  • A sense of humor helps, too, as parents welcome their young adult home again.

Compiled by the Office of New Student and Transition Programs.

Kara Nunnally,
10/8/2015 11:00 AM