Tips for parents: The transition home after the first year at Elon

By communicating and compromising together, your family can have a happy household this summer.

The First Summer Home

To make the most of your student’s time at home this summer, take a look at these top topics, identified by University Parent

Curfew. Your college student is used to a new college lifestyle where curfews do not exist. There may have been nights where your student stayed up late with friends or stayed up late studying. Work with your student to agree on a curfew that works for both of you — a time that won’t keep you up at night worrying. 

Chores. During the first year, your student didn’t have someone telling them when to make the bed or tidy up. If you find your student’s room and habits are not up to standards during the summer, work with them to set clear expectations about what it means to live with the family but also be sensitive to the new found independence and lifestyle your student has created. Be clear with your student about what you expect from them. One of the “house rules” might be that everyone contributes to running the household in some way. Decide as a family what those roles look like.

Sharing Space.  College is known to make college students into night owls. If your student blasts music or movies at 1 a.m., ask them to plug in their headphones after a certain hour. This way your student doesn’t feel pressured to go to bed and the family can have a good night sleep. Discuss expectations about sharing space, and keeping noise at a comfortable level. 

Friends. Seeing old friends and missing new ones at college can take an emotional toll on your student. If they constantly have friends over or seem to always be on their phone, work with them to establish nights where their friends can come over and when they cannot. This will allow for them to feel like they still have a social life, and give you a chance to designate certain nights for family time.  If they are navigating challenging relationships, be there to talk things through with your student, if they want to. 

Elon opens later in the fall than some other institutions; so consider what that last month looks like when many of their other friends might be going back to college three weeks before they do. For some, Elon will start to feel more like home than home does; this means that your student is well adjusted to college and is establishing their own identity. 

Academics and internships. Your student may be stressing about their first-year grades, academic requirements, and a feeling that they should be “doing more” (comparing themselves to their Elon peers and friends at other institutions).  Encourage them to do their best, make the most out of their summer (being sure to take time to rest and rejuvenate), and let them know that they have your support along the way. 

Sleep. When they first arrive home, your student may just want to catch up on sleep in a comfortable, familiar setting. Letting them relax before plunging into the next few weeks of reunions throughout the summer could do them some real good. 

If your student is not returning home for the summer this time around, consider the following ideas to help them feel connected to you and home from afar:

  • FaceTime or Skype them with all the family around;
  • Send them a care package with some of their favorite goodies;
  • Write them letters and/or cards to open on different days throughout the summer.

With any issues that arise, communication is the key. Before starting an argument, work with your student to solve the issue before it becomes a larger problem. No matter what comes up during the summer, you’ll be able to make the most of your time together by lending a listening ear, a supportive shoulder, and a caring heart.

Below is some advice shared by parents on the Parents Council and Elon Family Ambassadors:

"Set some family down time for each week to reconnect. The summer goes by so fast, and they may spend most of their time with their old high school friends and new college friends. Discuss their plans for the coming year, especially if they are studying abroad."  –  Georgiana P'20

"Have a discussion early after they get home about coming in after a night out. Do not expect pre-college curfews to still be valid! Remind them they are back to being part of a family unit, and they need to be respectful of other family members – especially siblings!"  –  Carolyn P'21

"If your student will be working over the summer, be sure they are clear about the dates they can start and when they will end. If possible, plan activities including all family members to keep your student busy when they are not working."  –  Adrienne P'21 

"Our students are used to having meals prepared from the dining halls at all hours. They may need to learn to cook if they want to eat at weird times. Otherwise, you will be stuck as a short-order cook."  –  Claire P'21

"Remember Move-In day? Loads and loads of stuff that were necessary to make a great wardrobe and a great dorm room, plus a car full of purchases from Bed Bath & Beyond. Now that the year is coming to a close, what is one to do with all that stuff? After her first year at Elon, our daughter will be flying home with two large suitcases, a carry-on bag, and her backpack. Everything else she is storing in town."  –  Pam P'22

"Designate a 'college closet' before your student arrives home. Wash everything and sift through all the extras and store them so that it is all ready to go in August. Storing things locally in Elon is a great alternative to bringing home large and unneeded items. Enjoy their time home, it goes so fast!"  –  Daryl P'21