Back to School Tips for Teens Headed to College

How Do I Prepare My Teen to Leave the Nest?

Back to School Tips for Teens Headed to College


Amy is headed off college for the first time this Fall.  She will be 3 hours away from home.  It will be the first time she is that far away from her parents.  Amy’s parents are concerned about their daughter.  Will she make the right decisions?  They have concerns about teenage drinking.  Will she give into peer pressure?  They hope the values that are important to them will remain with their daughter during her time at college.

Do you have a child headed off to college for the first time?   If so, you will want to teach or reinforce lessons you have already taught your teenager about good communication and problem solving skills because these will be very important as he or she heads into this next stage of life.  Here are some back to school tips for teens headed to college that will assist you in giving your child the skills they need to be confident, responsible and independent. Check out these additional back to school tips for teens entering high school that can help you through this transition as well.

Teens Gone Wild

In college, students from overly-strict families often “go wild” with their new-found freedom.  Reduce your concerns about teenage drinking and other problems your child may face from teenage peer pressure by teaching responsibility and independence skills.  A healthy balance is to allow teens to have some freedom and responsibilities, so they learn to balance each.

If you make a conscious effort to teach this balance when your child is in high school, the transition to college will be much easier.

You can also discover more insights, information and practical tools and tips about helping children develop independence and responsibility by listening to a one-hour recording of a live workshop called, “Serve Up Some Wings So Children Can Leave The Nest.” Click here to order.

Leaving Home – the Transition

For many families, a child leaving the nest comes easily, but for some it is stressful and full of conflict. As much as you hope you have prepared your teen, the reality is that some lessons are only gained by leaving home.

Within the first week of college, your teen will need to handle issues with the bank, college housing and post office. It is important for teens to resolve these themselves. Discuss the options and how to handle it, but ultimately, let them make the calls.

Although balancing college responsibilities and social activities can be difficult — this is usually not the most challenging part of college.

College Roommates

Many teens have privacy at home; they have their own room and space. In college, most share a room with at least one other person, usually a stranger. Of all the college transitions, this is perhaps the most difficult.

Colleges try to match roommates using vague general qualities. But individual differences, like being a morning or night person, studying needs, cleanliness, privacy and partying pose the most difficult challenges.

At the least, roommates need to be respectful of each other’s needs and space. Resolving differences requires good communication, problem-solving and negotiation skills. Knowing how to hold a house meeting is essential, because resolving conflicts often requires consensus decisions. So where do they learn these skills? At home — which brings us full-circle again.

From Cradle to College — and Beyond

The process of separating, being independent and “leaving home” actually starts the day our children are born. So parents need to have different roles, at each phase.

Throughout the years, develop and maintain mutual respect, open communication and trust. For these will be the foundation of your relationship – from cradle to college, and beyond.

If you want less stress, more ease and to feel confident in your parenting, sign up for the 7 Keys to Parenting Success free ebook.  You will get additional insights, information and practical tools and tips about teaching responsibility and independence by learning the Universal Blueprint® you face.  Sign up for the 7 Keys to Parenting Success free ebook now.


Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is President of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. For 30+ years, Jody has trained tens thousands of parents and family professionals worldwide through her dynamic workshops and hundreds of interviews with the media worldwide, including Parents and Working Mother magazines. She is the author of the award-winning book The Parent’s Toolshop®, and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds, plus other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website,

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