The Transition: Introduction

Making the actual move to college will be, for many teenagers, the first time they will be living away from home for an extended period of time. But, even if they’ll be living at home and attending college locally, there will still be many things for which they’ll now need to take responsibility which you may have handled in the past (or at least helped with).

For those living at school, this may be the first time they are primarily making their own decisions about what and when to eat, when to sleep, and about caring for their physical and emotional health. It will be important for them to make responsible decisions about personal safety and when to seek help, support or professional care. Even for those continuing to live at home, it is still likely that your child will be making more of their own decisions about themselves.

Campus life also brings other new decisions and challenges. Learning your way around a new environment, finding out where everything is, what various offices do and how to manage classwork, extra-curricular opportunities, leisure/fun/down-time all go more smoothly when there is a little information gathering, planning and discussion in advance.

Moving to college also brings personal and emotional challenges. Relationships with family and old friends will change and the opportunity to build new friendships is exciting but can also be challenging. College students come to campus mostly as “strangers” (maybe there will be a few old friends and acquaintances but probably not many) and this can cause some anxiety. But hopefully, during these years, they will build a new series of connections and relationships, some of which may last a lifetime.

For those with a prior history of medical or mental health problems, there is important planning to do to make sure any needed care is able to continue without interruption. Staying healthy will do a lot to ease the transition to college.

In this family section, we will review all of these topics (and more) and provide some simple suggestions for planning and managing these transition issues. We hope that you review the content in the Student Transition section, as well, and use this information to help your child plan and prepare for their exciting transition to college. In addition, check out this great resource for parents from USC on the transition to college.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text, call, or chat 988 for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

You can also contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.