Back to school prep with Cindy Crane

Cindy Crane joined Good Day Saturday with her tips on coping with college separation, for students and parents.

Here are her top 10 tips to help parents of college freshman:

1. Recognize this is a time of ambivalence for all parents (you're not alone).

The excitement and joy awaiting your college-bound child are mixed with a sense of loss. Talk with other parents going through the same thing. Knowing you're not alone helps you adjust to this new chapter.

2. Recognize your child's conflicting emotions.

Your child, like you, is being pulled between past, now and 'what's next?' … one day saying "Leave me alone. I'm 18 years old. I'm independent," and the next complaining "You're never around when I need you." Your rising freshman's ups and downs are a sign of the ambivalence of this transitional time.

3. Take comfort in the knowledge that part of you is going with your child.

Be comforted in the knowledge that you've laid the foundation that will support your child in the week,s months and years to come.

4. Enjoy this time of celebration. Be present.

Be present. Try to focus (and encourage your teen) to focus less on the upcoming departure and more on the excitement of senior year festivities and the joy of summer days ahead.

5. Be prepared to see less of your child this summer.

The closer it gets to departure time, the less you can expect to see of your child. He/she will likely be spending every waking hour with friends. Allow them this special time together.

6. Make a budget plan and discuss expectations with your child.

Develop a tentative budget and be clear about who will pay for what. For example, some parents pay for books and supplies, while their child is responsible for incidentals like snacks, movies, and the occasional pizza. Other students are responsible for earning a percentage of their tuition. Teach your child about responsible use of credit and debit cards.

7. Discuss academic goals and expectation ahead of time.

Many freshmen do not do as well academically first semester as they did in high school, and many change their minds about their proposed course of study. Ask them what they hope to accomplish academically this first year of college. It is important that they take ownership of their education. Grades are not the only indication of learning.

8. Talk to your child about how you'll keep in touch.

Have an open discussion about shared expectations. Do you want a planned time to talk - or do you want to be more spontaneous? Discuss the expectations - both yours - and your child's. A text, cell phone or FaceTime call can be an easy to keep in touch - or it can be  an "electronic leash."  But pay attention to if your student is connecting you "too" often - and, more likely, respect if he/she would rather connect "less" often.

9. Be a coach rather than trying to solve your child's problems yourself.

College students usually call their parents for reassurance when things aren't going well. They call their friends with the latest exciting news. When you get those late night phone calls, and you will, encourage your child to use the appropriate campus resources - to go to the health service or career center, talk to an advisor, dean, a counselor or tutor. Read resource information sent to you by the college so you can be an informed coach for your child.


Be an anchor.
Keep your child informed about changes at home. College students want their parents to accept all the changes they are making but want everything at home to stay the same. So it's important to keep them informed about changes at home, whether it's moving a younger sibling into their room, or, on a more serious note, about illness in the family or the death of a pet. They need this from you in order to feel secure and maintain a sense of trust.

(Bonus - 11.) Send care packages.
Early in the year, sharing popcorn or chocolate chip cookies is a wonderful way for a student to meet floor mates. Photographs are personal reminders of home. Holiday decorations, baskets of treats at exam time, and even everyday necessities like shampoo and quarters for the washing machine are reminders that say, "I'm thinking of you."

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