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Counsellors' Corner May 2019
By Beth Kramer, High School College Counsellor

Parent Tips: Navigating the Transition to University

Now that university admissions decisions have arrived, our Grade 12 students are preparing themselves for their next step in life: university. Leaving home to start university is one of the biggest transitions of young adulthood. Similarly, this is a time of transition for parents, as they plan for the departure of a child from their family home. The resulting changes in family dynamics and the parental role can be challenging for everyone. Here are some tips on ‘letting go’ and adjusting to these changes. Our advice comes from Karen Levin Coburn’s bestselling book Letting Go.

Recognize this is a time of ambivalence for all parents.
The excitement and joy about opportunities awaiting your child are mixed with the waves of nostalgia and a sense of loss. Talk with other parents who are going through the same thing.

Recognize your child’s conflicting emotions.
Your child, like you, is being pulled between past, present and future … one day exclaiming “leave me alone; I’m 18 years old. I’m independent” and the next complaining “you’re never around when I need you.” Your child’s ups and downs are a sign of the ambivalence of this transitional time.

Enjoy this time of celebration.
Try not to focus so much on the upcoming departure that you might miss the full impact of the end of Grade 12 festivities and the joy of summer days ahead.

Take comfort in the knowledge that part of you is going with your child.
The foundation you have provided over the past 18 years will accompany your child across the miles and throughout the years.

Don’t tell your child “These are the best years of your life".
No one is happy all the time between the ages of 18 and 22, and when a student is homesick or overtired from studying all night, it’s not reassuring to have parents imply that this is as good as it gets!

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 incidental expenses such as snacks, movies, and CDs. Other students are responsible for earning a percentage of their tuition. Teach your child about responsible use of credit and debit cards.

Discuss academic goals and expectation ahead of time.
Remember, 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 during their first year. It is important for them to take ownership of their education. Grades are not the only indication of learning.

We wish all of our graduating families the very best as they embark on the next exciting phase of life!


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