15 Tips for Parents For Their Teen Post College Acceptance

The anticipation leading up to college is filled with excitement, dreams, and expectations for your teen’s first step into adulthood. While the college experience at the right institution can indeed be incredible, it’s essential to acknowledge that perfection is elusive, even at the dream college. Life, after all, is a mix of good days and bad days, regardless of our location. Help your teen set realistic expectations for the upcoming college adventure, emphasizing that it’s okay to experience both highs and lows.

After enduring the rollercoaster ride of the 2023-24 college admissions cycle, the moment has finally arrived—your son or daughter has received that coveted acceptance letter and chosen their dream school. With the deposit check in the mail, the shift from “applicant” to “incoming freshman” is official. Yet, as parents prepare for a less crowded nest, a new set of concerns and logistical considerations arises. Here are ten essential tips to guide parents through the transition from the family home to the dorm room before the August move-in.

Be Prepared for the Rollercoaster

Life at college isn’t a constant high, and that’s perfectly normal. Loneliness might creep in until your teen finds their people. Encourage them to create a plan for involvement in campus clubs to kick start their social life around shared interests. Academic challenges may also arise, even for those who excelled in high school. Remind your child that it’s acceptable to ease into college life, and success may take time. Patience is key during this transitional period.

Choose the Right Dorm

Housing assignments, usually first-come, first-served after the May 1 enrollment deadline, are a crucial early step. Timely submission of housing paperwork increases the chances of securing a preferred dorm. Consider factors such as proximity to classes, room preferences, and available amenities when helping your teen make this decision.

Address Medical Needs

Familiarize yourself with the campus health center’s location, appointment procedures, and the range of services offered. For mental health services, especially if your child has a history of anxiety or depression, ensure they know the available resources. Additionally, provide a copy of their insurance card and discuss associated health center visit costs.

Handle Finances and Banking

Explore nearby banks or ATMs around campus, and if your child doesn’t have a checking account, open one jointly. Guide them in understanding budgeting for weekly/monthly expenses, from entertainment to toiletries, and other incidental costs.

Ensure AP Credits Are Awarded

If your teen earned passing scores on Advanced Placement (AP), IB, or CLEP exams, confirm the university’s acceptance of these credits. Check the school’s rules for credit allocation based on exam scores and submit official score reports if not done earlier.

Transfer Responsibilities

Prepare your child for independent living by gradually transferring responsibilities. Encourage them to set their alarms, memorize essential information, manage laundry, schedule dental appointments, and grasp basic personal finance and budgeting.

Secure Valuables

Dorm theft is a common concern, with statistics highlighting its prevalence. Invest in a lockable storage box or safe to safeguard valuables, medications, cash, and important documents. Even a basic lockbox can deter potential theft, costing under $30.

Address Transportation Needs

For students with cars on campus, update insurance information, plan parking arrangements, and educate them on post-accident procedures. If they won’t have a car, explore public transportation options, university shuttles, and travel plans for holidays.

Register for Classes and Placement Tests

Check if your university requires placement tests in subjects like English, math, or foreign language. Ensure these are completed before class registration. Some colleges allow freshmen to select courses early, so familiarize yourself with the fall course catalog.

Discuss Safety

Engage in open conversations about safety, particularly regarding sexual assault and alcohol-related incidents. Equip your child with knowledge about consent, staying safe in social gatherings, and the potential risks associated with fraternity-related activities.

Plan for Orientation and Parents’ Weekends

If your child’s school is a short distance away, plan accommodations for orientation and parents’ weekends well in advance. Booking early ensures you secure suitable lodgings during these busy periods. Consider bringing a hand truck on move-in day to ease the process.

Navigating the transition from high school to college involves proactive planning, open communication, and careful consideration of various aspects. By addressing these ten tips, parents can help ensure a smooth and successful transition for their soon-to-be college freshman.

Listening Instead of Fixing

As natural problem-solvers and protectors, parents often find it hard to resist fixing every issue for their college-bound children. However, this phase is an opportunity for them to learn problem-solving skills and resilience. Unless safety is at risk, encourage your child to experience disappointment and failure, offering support through active listening and reflective questioning. Help them develop plans on their own rather than providing immediate solutions.

Tackling Health Challenges

Managing illnesses at college can be challenging, especially when all your child wants is the comfort of home. Before they leave, discuss illness management, ensuring they have familiar medications and know when and how to use them. Teach them to recognize when seeking medical care is necessary.


The era of weekly phone calls from a shared corded phone may be a thing of the past, but finding the right balance in communication is crucial. Limiting calls to a weekly or biweekly schedule promotes independence and allows your child to develop their life. Encourage them to share positive news but also inquire about their social life, as frequent calls may indicate social struggles.

Battling Homesickness

Missing home is inevitable, and your child might yearn for familiar comforts. Remind them that homesickness is a normal part of transitioning to a new environment. Encourage resilience, patience, and self-compassion as they navigate through this period.

Essential Skills for College Life

Ensure your teen is proficient in basic life skills before heading off to college. These skills include doing laundry (with stain treatment and color separation), managing finances, setting alarms, independent prescription medication management, cleaning a bathroom, and reading emails—essential for communication with college professors.

By acknowledging the potential challenges and preparing for them, both you and your teen can approach the college transition with confidence, resilience, and a readiness to embrace the full spectrum of experiences that come with this significant life change.


The journey from high school to college is an exciting and transformative time for both parents and their teens. While the anticipation is high and expectations even higher, it’s crucial to approach this transition with a realistic mindset. College life is a mix of good and bad days, and acknowledging this fact helps set the stage for a smoother adjustment.

Parents, being natural problem-solvers, should embrace the shift from “fixing” everything to actively listening and guiding their college-bound children in developing crucial life skills. From navigating health challenges to maintaining open lines of communication, each aspect contributes to a well-rounded and resilient college experience.

As homesickness and academic differences may arise, fostering patience and encouraging independence become key components of this transition. Equipping your teen with essential life skills, from managing finances to doing laundry, ensures they are well-prepared for the responsibilities that come with college life.

In the end, this phase represents not only an academic journey but a personal and social one as well. By embracing the ups and downs, both parents and teens can navigate the college years with resilience, patience, and a readiness to face the challenges and triumphs that lie ahead. The college experience is not just about academic achievement; it’s a transformative period that shapes individuals for a lifetime.