Your New Student
We asked parents of current U-M students what they wish they had known before sending their son/daughter off to Michigan. Here’s what they had to say:
Make sure they are ready to be challenged on everything.
That the degree of activity decreases at home. It is an adjustment. Get used to quiet time and the phone ringing less.
Make sure you stay involved and informed about the decisions that your son or daughter makes, but keep in mind that they are young adults now, and that these are their decisions to make, right or wrong.
Winter vacation will be different and challenging. Your son or daughter will NOT want to be with the family primarily, but rather with all of the friends left behind, and he/she will expect to play by the new college rules rather than the traditional rules of the house. A FAR different vacation for the family than we had imagined.
I was surprised how often we received a phone call on the weekend inviting us to take her to eat. Apparently a break from dorm food is welcome.
Brace yourself. They go through emotional experiences, and so do you. It is a learning experience all around.
He is so happy and that is the key to my adjustment.
Parents and students should do as much of the adjustment in the ‘life skills area’ as possible before September. Several months before September, open the bank account, balance the checkbook, do the laundry etc. There’s enough new stuff going on in September, so try not to have these things added to the list.
Be prepared for how quickly our children become independent. Communication with parents will be infrequent and typically when something (usually money) is needed. We had received this advice, but were amazed at how quickly it happened!
Encourage him to problem solve!
It is harder for the second child to leave that it was for the first—not for the student but for the parents. The house feels way too big.
Bring your own dolly if you have one because there are not enough to go around, and they cost money to rent.
I wish I had been told that the email about the tuition bill would go to our student, and wish we had changed that immediately.
Make sure to keep the lines of communication open. Talk frequently about what is going on at home and what is going on at school.
A friend recommended a book called Letting Go—A Guide to Parents, offering insights into the wisdom of not holding on too tightly and allowing your adolescent enough room to grow while maintaining a nurturing relationship. It was very helpful to us.
As hard as it is—let go and trust your child to make the right choices.
This year I sent my third student to college. Of the three, he seemed the most mature and needed the least advice. However, his adjustment has been the most difficult. I needed to remember I have done this before, but the student’s experience will be unique.
Parents should NOT expect their child to call home so much, but that their children enjoy hearing from them via phone calls or mail.
Be sensitive to your child’s needs (for visits, mail, contact, calls); don’t ignore your own. Trust what you know to be true about your son/daughter and your relationship with them.
Be prepared for your sophomore to move off campus. They make that decision in Fall Term of freshman year.
Let them make their own mistakes and decisions.
Although it is hard when your child leaves home, feel good about the fact that life with you to this point has empowered your child to take the next step on the road toward being an independent, happy, and productive member of our society. Continue to support him or her with encouragement and love. Keep in close touch, but resist the temptation to be a ‘helicopter’ parent hovering over your child with too-frequent visits or talking on the phone every day. Give your child space to live his or her life, to make friends, to grow intellectually, to make his or her own decisions and to learn life’s lessons on his or her own. This is how you can help the college experience best prepare your child for life.
I wish I had been more prepared for dealing with my daughter’s ‘hard times’ over the phone, and realizing that I couldn’t do much over such a long distance—sometimes listening didn’t seem like enough.
The feeling of emptiness eventually goes away.
Have a subscription to the Michigan Daily (or read it online). I find it an excellent way to feel in touch with what’s a part of my daughter’s world without infringing on her independence.
We wish we had known more about dorm life. Our daughter adjusted nicely, but we were not aware of how many changes had taken place in the past 30 years.
Email! It’s a great way to keep in touch without being overbearing or annoying.
Allow your child room to grow into an adult. Do not hold on too tightly, but have high expectations and lots of love, praise, and empathy for the hard work and pains of growing they will experience—and let them experience them! It’s well worth the person they become.
Learn to let go. You don’t have the control you did in high school.
Don’t make suggestions unless they ask.
I thought I would cry more, but once I saw him settled, it wasn’t so bad. I knew it was a grand new beginning for him.
It’s harder than you anticipate.
No one has ever really shared with us about the conflict of emotions that comes from missing your child at home, and yet the overwhelming feeling of pride as you watch them grow in independence away from home. Also, the turmoil that a sibling will experience who is left at home without her older brother.
Don’t let your child know how sad you feel.
You must give your child all the skills needed—safety, relationships, drug awareness—long before college. It’s too late if you wait until dropping him/her off.
Prepare yourself for the first vacation home and the student’s‘re-entry’ into your world. Have common rules of respect before the vacation starts.
Sign up for Instant Messaging. But let your student initiate most of the conversations.
How difficult it is to adjust to not having your child, especially if it’s your first, at home.
Not to expect frequent e-mails or contact with your child. He’s off on his own now.
Book everything at least 6 months in advance, especially if an event is going on!