Students, families prepare for return to college

Whether you’re a freshman entering college for the first time or a soon-to-be empty-nester sending your children off to school, preparing for college can be a daunting task.
From packing for a tiny dorm room to getting along with a roommate you’ve never met,  the transition to college is an adjustment for the entire family.
There are things you can do, however, to prevent common problems stemming from new college experiences.

Moving into a dorm room
The first step in preparing to move into a dorm room is to contact the college or university you’re attending.
“You need to learn what size bed you’re going to have and if your room has a refrigerator or not,” said Dr. Glennie Daniels, family and consumer sciences agent for Catawba County Cooperative Extension. “That way, you can get the right size of bed sheets, and you don’t waste time and money taking anything back that you didn’t need.”

Dealing with empty nest syndrome
Students aren’t the only people who must cope with changes from going to college. Many parents and siblings are left feeling lonely or sad after a student goes to college.
“Anticipate that this is a change in a major way for both students and their parents,” said Mike Nichols, a clinical therapist for the Family Guidance Center in Hickory.

Getting along with a new roommate
“Don’t decide in 5 minutes if you’re going to love them or hate them,” Daniels said. “You have to give it at least two to six weeks.”

Managing new responsibilities and freedom
After a move from home to college, students and their parents should anticipate changes in behavioral expectations. Students have more freedom and social opportunities and are managing a more rigorous academic schedule.
“The change is about transition. It’s about launching yourself out to the world, but you’re not ready for all of that yet,” Nichols said. “It’s all new for the student, and of course it will be for the parents, too. Relinquishing control is one of the hardest things to do.”