Articles of Interest

5 Tips for Coping as Your Child Heads Off to College

There are so many milestones in any parent’s life, but one of the most significant is the day you send your adult child off to college. You will probably have a mix of emotions. On the one hand, you are excited for the opportunities, experiences, and independence that college will bring. On the other hand, you are feeling sad that they are leaving home, and you won’t see them every day.

Many parents struggle with the feelings of sadness and loss when a child leaves home. If you don’t take good care of your mental health, these feelings can lead to more serious depression. To help you make the most of your new life situation, here are five tips for coping when your child heads off to college.

  1. Accept your feelings. There is nothing wrong with feeling emotional about your child leaving. It is a big change, and it will take time to cope with it. Give yourself time to feel sad and let out your emotions. Talk to your partner or close friends about your feelings. Do something that makes you feel good – go for a long walk, take a hot bath, read a good book, etc. 
  1. Keep in touch. Remember, your child is not gone for good. They’re living in another place right now, but you can still pick up the phone and call or text to stay connected. There is a good chance your child is feeling homesick, so they will appreciate you checking on them. Occasional communication will help you feel connected with your child despite the distance. 
  1. Give them space. Although communication is important, you should be careful about being overbearing. Your child needs space to enjoy student life, make new friends, and study too. If you call or text them every night, they won’t feel like an independent adult. Arrange a regular time for a catch-up call once or twice a week.
  2. Spend more time with your other children, your partner, or friends. Whether you’re sending your only child off to college or just one of your children, spending time with other loved ones can help you adjust to your new household makeup. Spend additional time with your child still at home, carve out date night with your spouse, or make time to get out with friends. Regardless of your situation, use this opportunity to reconnect with important people in your life. 
  1. Find a new focus. You may feel like a part of your life is missing. Find a new focus to fill this gap – it will give you something meaningful to focus on. Start a new project, join a book club, commit to some self-care to achieve a new fitness or wellness goal, or trying something new.

Although going to college is a normal part of life, it’s also normal for this rite of passage to be hard for parents. It’s important to cope with this life transition. If you or someone you know is struggling with their child heading off to college, St. Luke’s Penn Foundation is here to help. Learn more at