6 Best Practices for Helping Your Daughter Transition from High School to College

Contributed by: Claudia Arellano, AmeriCorps Summer VISTA and recent Texas State University graduate


Transitioning from high school to college is a life experience that is filled with lots of new activities, people, places and adventures. But what does this mean for you as a parent? It’s often easy for both parents and new students to focus on how nervous they feel about this transition, and not fully appreciate how fun and exciting this new stage in life can be! You might ask yourself; what can you do to support your daughter? Here are a few ways that you can help your future college student prepare for this new stage of life.


1. Remember to always keep the lines of communication open with your daughter. Take time to ask her questions about what she’s excited, concerned and anxious about. Be sure to sit down and chat with your daughter about any questions she might have about your experience as an adult. The summer before her freshman year in college is often a time that she wants to spend time hanging out with her high school friends, which may mean you have to be flexible and patient with her.


2. Put disappointment in perspective. Many college students will learn what it feels like to receive their first C, or even their first failing grade. College is difficult and sometimes as much time and effort as you put into it, adjusting to a new academic setting can be overwhelming. As a parent, be supportive of your student and find ways to help her bring up her grades or cultivate new study habits. Give her support and guidance as opposed to shaming her. “Our college students don’t want to disappoint us. They don’t want to let us down. They don’t want to fail at their new found independence.” If your child ends up not passing a class, Steps to Take if Your College Student Fails a Class offers helpful insight and best practices for creating an action plan.


3. Set Financial Expectations. The summer before your daughter’s first semester is the best time to set these expectations. GreatSchools.org highlights the importance of setting a tentative budget and deciding who spends what money. For example, parents can be in charge of paying tuition, books, and other items that are school related. However, it’s important to give your daughter some responsibility as well, such as having her pay for items that involve her entertainment such as shopping, music, extracurricular clubs/organizations and going out with friends to a movie.


4. Speak to your daughter about time management. For every hour spent in class, two-three hours have to be dedicated to studying outside of class. In college, there are numerous activities and organizations that your daughter can be a part of. Advise your child to invest in a new calendar or planner system and log important dates ranging from tests to what time they have study group. I suggest that both you and your daughter read 4 Ways to Manage Your Time Successfully. The tips given are detailed, yet simple and manageable.


5. Let go. Understand that your role in your daughter’s life is now going to change. Embrace it! Know that it’s now your daughter’s responsibility to get to school on time, to decide when to go to sleep, and what her plans are. Although we advise keeping open communication, also know that there is a limit to how involved you might want to be with your child once school starts. Barbara K. Hofer, contributor to the Huffington Post, explains that the more you talk to your child throughout the semester, the less independent she will be. It also lists great tips on ways to help your college student embrace emerging adulthood.


6. Lastly, stay positive! Remind your daughter that, as Rachel Simmons advises girls in her Girl Tip #72, “it’s not how big you are, it’s how hard you swim, and it’s the littlest fish that grow, and learn, and dream the big fish dreams.”


This is a time of excitement and growth; rejoice in that with your new college student!

Vanessa Wright