Preparing for the first year

As your student prepares for their first-year of college, you might find yourself wondering what you can do to help them prepare for the year ahead. Over the next couple of months you may want to offer your student increased amounts of independence and responsibilities and provide them with more opportunities to make his or her own decisions.

The months leading up to September are an ideal time to communicate with your student. Good communication now will set the foundation for the years ahead and help create a forum for what can sometimes be difficult conversations. Talk about your own apprehensions and fears, as well as the things that you are looking forward to. There are many topics that can be introduced including:

Academic expectations:

College is very different from high school. It is common for students to experience larger classes, heavier workloads and multiple demands.

Changing relationships: 

Most students don’t attend the same university as his or her friends. Long distance friendships can begin to change as each person continues to explore their values and refine their interpersonal skills.


Most college campuses are more diverse (e.g. age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) than high schools. This is an excellent opportunity for your student to learn from his or her peers and expand his or her global knowledge.

Family expectations:

Whether a student is living at home or away from home, it is important to talk about what is expected. For students living at home, topics may include house rules and how to offer your student more independence and decision-making. When a student is living away from home, topics may include visits, telephone calls and the sharing of information.