The first year at college is an extremely stressful time for both the parent as well as your teenager.

Your teen is truly leaving home for the first time. He's also leaving his friends and a world that he's lived in and felt comfortable with for years.

For most teenagers their first year includes a new area, along with a new room and roommate. College comes with a learning environment that is fast paced and a lot less personal than high school.

This is sometimes an extreme shock to a teenager and they may soon find themselves struggling to keep up with and understand all the material they need to learn. Tests and quizzes are longer and require knowledge of much more material than High School, causing students’ stress levels to rise even more.

With no one to really guide them, sometimes a first-year student will find unhealthy or dangerous ways to relax and take their mind off of school. Although the dangers your teenager faces in college are the same as high school, the environment, rules, and people which present these situations are completely different. Your teenager is now in a place where they have to make friends all over again, and since you, nor any other adult is looking over their shoulder to tell them “No”, they may make unsafe and regretful decisions.

Drinking is the biggest threat to a teenager in college. Alcohol is easy to purchase and even easier to consume. Parties constantly exist near or even on campus, with availability of alcohol and sometimes even drugs. With no adults present and security personnel rarely showing up, a teenager may feel almost invincible, therefore pushing themselves to a level of drinking and partying that they cannot handle. A teenager may begin to spin out of control without even knowing it. Partying too much on the weekend, or even during the school week, may lead to classes being skipped. Before they know it, teenagers in their first year of college may find themselves falling behind in class, possibly leading to the failing of classes.

How Parents can help their Teen

Keep in contact with your teenager, but do not smother them. Call occasionally to see how much time they are spending in their room. Do not ask them if they are going to class or not. Instead, ask more personal questions about their classes. For instance, if they are taking an English class, ask what book they are reading at the moment. If they have an assigned book reading, ask what the book is about and if they like it. Ask whether they are or are not enjoying reading it and find out why your teenager feels that way. By asking about the details, parents will get a better understanding about the progress their teen is making and how serious they are taking their classes.

It is also important to ask them how they like the college environment and if they are making friends. Ask what your son or daughter is doing in his or her spare time and what entertainment options are available.

Make sure your teen knows that he can call home anytime, especially if he feels overwhelmed or homesick.

At the same time, ask your teenager about the best time to reach him so you can talk to him when you are missing him. By admitting to your teen that you miss him it will be easier for your teen to pick up the phone to call you if she is homesick or feeling overwhelmed.

Parents experiencing the empty nest syndrome are sometimes tempted to convert their college freshman’s room to other use. There are several reasons why I would recommend not doing that. First, your teen will be home from college more than parents initially think. Secondly, already troubled by the separation of family and friends, it would cause further distress to your teenager if his room were not available for him when he comes home. During the first year of college your teenager has to work through several emotional issues. It would ease some of the stress for your teenager if everything were the way she left it when she comes home during breaks.

Author's Bio: 

Christina Botto is the author of Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents that Works and Fitting The Pieces. For tools and resources to help you better understand and relate to your teen, or help with specific issues visit her web site at Parenting A Teenager.

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