Parents of college freshman have a whole bunch of new worries to add to their list. How will my kid adjust to living away from home? How will he handle the work load? I hope she gets along with her roommate. What if he has a problem with one of his professors? What if she is too involved in socializing and not involved enough in her studies? So many hypotheticals can run through a parent’s head during that first year, where worries are exacerbated by the fact that your child is not living under your roof (and surveillance), likely for the first time. And the truth is, parents, that it is very possible that your child will fumble a bit freshman year. Don’t forget how new this whole experience is for him or her, and that your child is stretching muscles he’s never had to before. There are plenty of distractions along the way too, between the pressure to fit in with a new peer group, get good grades, and make the best decisions. Fumbles are not only probable, but in some ways, a good thing. For your child to trip up means he’s trying something new – and isn’t that newness what college is all about? New people, new ideas, new knowledge, new direction. New beginnings require your child to enter uncharted territory, and with so much going on all at once, your child is bound to juggle here and there until he or she finds the balance, something that only comes with time.
Since being an 18-year-old college freshman isn’t exactly a new phenomenon in this world, you can imagine there are some mistakes that have been made time and time again. As much as you may want to believe otherwise, your child is not necessarily immune to making these mistakes, even with the most careful planning and guided advice. During that whirlwind freshman year, your child may make any of these mistakes characteristic to the adjustment period: not prioritizing work over social activities, not prioritizing sleep and healthy eating, underestimating the workload, expecting leniency from professors, and expecting the academic experience to be similar to high school. But rest assured, if your child trips up here, he or she will not be the first. Look for signs that things have gone too far, but don’t be so quick to jump in and right your child’s wrongs. When will there be a better time for him or her to learn to fix the mistakes? With resources for all these fumbles – from freshman counseling to mandatory seminars to support groups to peer networks – all your child may need is a little encouragement to get back on track, and to take control of his or her life and success.
Assuming your child will have something in common with the countless college freshmen before him (which he will, really!), one or more of these fumbles is likely to occur. But here’s the good news: there is hardly anything that happens on a college campus that can’t be chalked up to a learning experience. With the right amount of support and encouragement, your child will learn from these mistakes and be way less likely to repeat them again. Experience is the best teacher, especially for a young adult in college, and necessary for your child’s growth. These common mistakes are luckily easy to handle with the right attitude and drive to succeed.