Parenting a College Freshman

This page is especially designed for parents of incoming freshman. Here, you will find alternate resources, tips on managing the transition for you and your child, things you can do NOW, and introduce you to the developmental challenges students (and you) will face.

Developmental Tasks of College Students

How do you know what struggles are "normal" versus those you should be more concerned about? Here's a look at the expected and normal developmental tasks of college students:

  • Developing Identity & Learning About New Roles. During college, student's identities and sense of self begins to expand to those of an adult, partner, person of autonomy, from that of a child or a sibling. Considering the different roles they will play is at time overwhelming, though predictable.
  • Preparing for Occupation or Career. The questions is no longer which college will I go to? but what am i going to do with my life? Some students come to college with an idea of the career/major they want to pursue. Some do not. And many change their minds along the way.
  • Love, Marriage, and Family. Many student meet their life partners while in college and may even begin to think of their family; this impacts their future and how they think about their lives now.
  • Acquiring Their Own Values. Like it or not, your child will experiment with their values during college. They may try new things that may not fit with what they learned from your family - as distressing as this is to some parents, students need to learn what works for them and what doesn't. What may be simply inherited, and what really does fit with their life-view? You can think of this as a balloon expanding with air - students may try to fit as many new values and beliefs as they can before they "pop," but the balloon is eventually allowed to deflate. We know that much (certainly not all) of the time, children's values return to those of the parents - at least for the most part!

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