University of Vermont


For Families

The Transition to College

For your student, college will likely be a period of intellectual stimulation and growth, career exploration and development, increased autonomy, self-exploration and discovery, and social involvement. During this period, your student may forge new identities or seek to clarify values and beliefs. This may require an examination of self, friends, and family. It may also be a time for exploration and experimentation, and a period in which your student may question or challenge the values you hold dear.

The changes your student may experience can occur quickly, as they begin to develop new peer relationships, gain competence in new areas, and learn to manage independence. It is important to recognize that every student will experience their own unique challenges and adjustments, just as every family member will have different expectations for and reactions to their student's college experience.

Often overlooked is the fact that the college experience is a significant transition for the families of college students.

You may experience feelings of happiness, excitement, and pride when your student leaves for college. At the same time, you may feel a sense of sadness and pain, and may have understandable fears and concerns about your student's future and well-being. You may worry about your student's safety and ability to care effectively for themselves. You may fear "losing" your student as he or she begins to function more independently and form deep attachments with peers. You may be concerned about how your student will deal with alcohol, drugs, and sexual relationships. You may also wonder how your student's performance in college will reflect on you as the family.

It can be a difficult time.

Please follow the links below for suggestions on supporting your student—and yourself—during this period.

Last modified March 04 2014 09:20 AM