Health & Safety

A healthy emotional transition to college life

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By Victor Schwartz, M.D.

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High School Parent | College Parent

While many students are thrilled at the prospect of “leaving the nest” and embracing their newfound independence, others are anxious about leaving the comfort and security of home. Still others approach the transition confidently but flounder once they get to school. To navigate this period as smoothly as possible, students and parents should put together a transition plan.

Before arriving for Orientation or move-in day

You and your student should both get on the college’s website and acquaint yourselves with everything the school has to offer. Encourage your student to find out about services available on campus and get an initial sense of what clubs and activities might interest her. Strong and positive social connections are a key part of maintaining emotional and mental health. Also, knowing where the Advising and Health and Counseling Centers are located will make it easier for your student to drop in.


“Transition Year: Parent Edition” is sponsored by the Jed Foundation. Information, resources, and a Q&A help you support the emotional well-being of your college student.

Before school starts — A plan for continuing care

If a new student has a history of medical or emotional health issues, it is very important that parents and clinicians work together to determine how she will continue treatment, how she might receive medications (if needed), and how often she will be in contact with her therapist or doctor either at home or one on or near campus. Be sure to work out any issues with insurance coverage in order to eliminate another potential source of stress.

Medical records and accommodations

Before school starts, it will also be helpful to contact the Counseling and Disability Services Offices (if there might be need for accommodations) so that there is a coordinated plan between student, family, and home-based as well as potential campus-based clinicians. Records at these offices are confidential and separate from academic records. Having everyone connected will increase the likelihood that care will run smoothly and that your student will succeed in school.
Keep in mind, no matter how carefully you prepare in advance, something will inevitably come up that you didn't expect. Learning to be flexible and dealing with these challenges may not be easy but is all part of the growing process for your student and for you.

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