References for Common Concern

Letting Go and Staying Connected

Letting Go

College is a time of transition for students and their parents. There is no way to move through such a transition without feeling some sense of excitement and loss. The excitement is easy to handle. The sense of loss or dislocation is less so.

Your student will probably seem different after he or she has been in college for awhile, even after just for a few weeks. You may see changes in:

Remember that in the first months of college students also face a myriad of social challenges which they must solve by:

The key is to be prepared for these changes. It is easy to make snap judgments on the quality or character of the differences, but try to refrain from doing so. They are likely to change again in the next month. Try to appreciate that your student's view of the world is expanding and s/he is building an identity through his or her own process of trial and error.

The following are some ideas for dealing with the sense of loss, and successfully “letting go” as your student goes to college.

If you have other children still at home, here are some other points to keep in mind:

Remember that this is a time of transition for both you and your student. Keep the lines of communication open!

Staying Connected

How can you "let go" of your student without cutting off your love and support? It's not as hard as you might think. In general, students simply like to communicate with their loved ones at home on their own terms, at their own times. This is the most important thing to keep in mind.

Here are some ways that you can stay connected without infringing on your student's new-found freedom:

If your main form of communication is the telephone, here are some ideas for getting the most out of your conversations:

For more information, pick up a copy of “Letting Go: A Parents’ Guide to Understanding the College Years” by Karen Coburn and Madge Treeger.

Adapted from a publication from the Minnesota Higher Education Services Office (


A lot of students talk about being stressed-out and many, when asked what they do to relax have difficulty coming up with a response. Relaxing is easy to fit into your busy schedule, and can be accomplished in a number of ways. Some people like to read, some to exercise, others to hang out with friends. Others relax using alcohol, nicotine, or other drugs, but these are less healthy ways of doing so and can lead to other problems, which just make you more stressed.

Simply put, relaxation is a reduction in body tension. You may feel you have tightness in your shoulders, neck or back, for example. One common method used to relax is to focus on your breathing. You will likely find that as your body relaxes, your breathing becomes easier, though you didn’t notice it was difficult before. Relaxation can also be a reduction in emotional tension. By focusing on an enjoyed activity, we reduce the time and energy we spend thinking about, or worrying about, those stressful parts of our lives. If you are one of those who has difficulty figuring out what to do to relax, learning a relaxation exercise can be a quick, simple and effective way to reduce your stress and tension. Below are links to two audio files of guided relaxation. They are available for you to download free, and can be copied to a CD, or listened to on an mp3 player.

Tips for relaxation exercises:

Audio relaxation files are provided with permission, courtesy of the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Counseling Center (

For Progressive Relaxation Exercise and Combination Relaxation Exercise:

Other Resources

Other Wellness Topics