They're excite to get out there on their own but odds are they are more than a little nervous and scared. It's scary leaving home and the security of having family around them. They have no frame of reference for what to expect from living on their own, dealing with a roommate and making all their own decisions. Add in the anxiety and pressure of classes and grades and you have one scared freshman.
One thing you can do is to try and get them to open up and talk about what they are feeling. Just talking about it and realizing that they are not the only ones feeling like this can really help. Every freshman going off to college is nervous!!! Encourage them that they can do this and will be successful if they work at it.
Help them find the resources available on their campus before they go. Have them look up the places for help with roommate situations, help with studying and tutoring. Take some time to talk with them about campus security and how to stay safe. Find out about campus security escort services if they have to walk at night and have them program the contact numbers into their phone before they leave for school. Sometimes just knowing about the supports in place on campus will relieve much of their anxiety.
When a problem does arises, they need to be the one to go and ask for help. They need to be their own advocate when they go to college. Make sure to tell them that you'll be there to help them as well.
- Here's the big caution: When they call you for help; "I hate my roommate", "I'm having a problem", you can't solve it for them. You need to help them solve the problem themselves. If they have a roommate issue, ask them if they've actually talked with the roommate about the problem. Odds are they haven't encourage them to talk with them first and then if that doesn't work, go to the RA. As hard as it may be- don't start making phone calls yourself, they need to learn to fix things on their own. Your job is to be an encourager and give them ideas of how to work through things on their own.
How are you feeling? Here's you might feel.
You're really ready for them to go. The summer before college is long and they can be more than a bit moody and difficult to have around sometimes. This is so you're more ready for them to get out of the house!
You're excited that they are starting their life as an (almost) adult and for the adventures and future that await them. You've spent years raising them to be self sufficient and given them wings to fly, corny I know but true.
You're nervous for them because you won't be there to help them, to make sure that they are safe, eating right and making wise decisions.
You're also sad because your job as a 24-7 mom/dad to your precious baby is over. You won't be able to peek in and see them sleeping until noon, see their face every day or just be able to give them a hug or a kiss as you pass by. That is really hard. It changes the way you cook and how much food you fix. I remember years ago when my first child left for college and I was at the grocery store. I went to buy baking potatoes and put 7 in the bag. I realized that I only needed 6 and burst into tears. Not just a few tears, I'm talking SOBS. Thankfully, a woman nearby had been there and asked if my first child had just left for college. We both had a good laugh and I finished shopping but it was stupid things like that that would make me realize that life was different, not worse just something that I needed to adjust to and it made me sad during that transition.
Take the time to not only celebrate this transition that they are making but to realize that your sadness and tears are perfectly normal during YOUR transition to life without them at home.
Enjoy these last few weeks before they are gone and use them to get both of you ready for college.