Letting Go The College Transition for Parents Part Three

Letting Go: College Transition 101 for Parents [Part Three]

Managing Academic Expectations & Handling An Empty Nest

Words by Mrs. Debbie Pitcairn, Director of College Counseling

“While students should be applying themselves seriously to their classes, it is important to realize that much of what is learned in college is what happens outside the classroom.”
Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years, by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger

The human development that goes on in college is absolutely critical to the “liberal arts” education that employers recognize as providing the basis for the future development of the employee: the skills to learn, solve complex problems, collaborate effectively, deal with diversity, think creatively, innovate, research, synthesize, lead and manage others, network, etc.

These are not distance-learned or learned only in a classroom, but on the field, in the lab, in clubs and organizations, during internships, study abroad, and out in communities.Employers look for these high-impact, formative experiences in prospective employees.

Teach your child that career development and resume building start the first day on campus and not upon graduation from college.

As seniors are making their way into early adulthood, many parents are also feeling their way into Empty-Nest-hood.

Parents can feel as ambiguous and conflicted about this major transition in their lives as their children do in theirs. Be aware of your feelings and how it affects how you interact with your child.

The combination of the impending departure of your child and greater freedom from daily child-rearing responsibilities can be bittersweet. We are sad to be losing them, but proud of their accomplishments and thrilled at their opportunities.

 

The combination of the impending departure of your child and greater freedom from daily child-rearing responsibilities can be bittersweet. We are sad to be losing them, but proud of their accomplishments and thrilled at their opportunities.

 

Grief at the passing of this stage of life and exhilaration at the opportunities that come with the next can create our own rollercoasters.

This is a wonderful time to develop new or return to old passions, interests, and hobbies. The quiet and orderliness, the freedom to engage in one’s own interests, make one’s own schedule, and spend time with a spouse or partner can be very satisfying and joyful.

I, personally, love it when my children come home to visit and am happy when they leave again!

As turbulent and emotional as this time can be, it is valuable to keep in mind that the formation of independent mature adults is our goal. This process does not end with high school graduation but continues through college and into a young person’s 20’s.

“Letting Go” of our children does not mean losing them.

A successful development and separation process results in the very rewarding outcome of healthy, mutually respectful, close relationships with our mature, independent adult children.

 


Letting Go is a conversational meeting our Director of College Counseling Mrs. Debbie Pitcairn has with parents of seniors. In this three-part blog series, she covers many of the topics included in that meeting. Information for this series came from several resources. For a full list of recommended reading, see this list.

Part One: Preparing for Adulthood
Part Two: Facing New Challenges
Part Three: Managing Academic Expectations and Handling an Empty Nest

Learn more about our College Counseling program here.