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Top 8 Concerns of Parents and Their College Freshmen

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My son started college a year ago this month. I recall how hard it was to walk away and let him begin his new life without us. The sudden peace and quiet at home, not to mention the eerie neatness, lack of competition for the television, and the increase in shelf life of groceries didn't really compensate for his absence. But this is what parents work toward from their child's first day of kindergarten, right? If you're about to send your own child off to college, pat yourself on the back for a mission (almost) accomplished, and take comfort in knowing that your concerns and your budding freshman's are completely normal -- if somewhat different. In "I'll Miss You Too: An Off-to-College Guide for Parents and Students," mother-daughter team Margo Woodacre Bane and Steffany Bane examine the transition from both sides. Based on their observations, and my own experience, here's how parent and student top fears stack up. Parents most worry about: 1. Losing touch with the student. 2. Forging a new parent-child relationship. 3. The perils of drugs and alcohol and poor judgment. 4. The student's inability to handle 24/7 freedom (read: sleeping through classes). 5. Not being able to let go of knowing what's going on with the child. 6. The student's safety in an unfamiliar environment. 7. Changes in the family dynamic due to the student's departure. 8. Not being able to keep up with tuition and expenses. In contrast, students' top worries are: 1. Not liking the school they chose. 2. Not getting along with a roommate. 3. Parents not trusting them to make good decisions. 4. Missing their high school friends and being homesick. 5. Choosing a major. 6. Not meeting academic standards. 7. Having to deal with constant contact from parents. 8. Money troubles. As my own son gets ready to start his sophomore year, this is my best advice: Repeat to yourself, no news is good news. Then follow your child's lead. Let him or her do most of the calling and texting, listen with a sympathetic ear, offer advice when asked, and get on with your own life as you let your student figure out how to solve problems (mostly) on her or his own. It a guarantee that neither of you will do everything right -- but you'll both learn. For more on the college transition:
  • "The Black Girl's Guide to College Success: What No One Really Tells You About College That You Must Know" by Sheryl Walker (Author House, $17.95)
  • "African American Student's College Guide: Your One-Stop Resource for Choosing the Right College, Getting in, and Paying the Bill" by Isaac Black (Wiley, $18.76)
  • "Black College Student Survival Guide" by Jawanza Kunjufu (African American Images, $11.66)
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