The Truth About Freshman Year

A college student tells parents what they need to hear

Buckle up, parents. It may seem as if one day you’re packing your child’s lunch box for his first day of kindergarten, and the next, you’re watching as he packs his bags for college.

A common anxiety of most guardians is the fear their child won’t be successful when off alone at school. No matter the intelligence level of any group of students, and regardless of whether they admit it or not, the way the students were raised has a big influence on how they navigate their college career.

Related: How to Thrive in College

To be more specific, the extent of how strict and authoritative parents are with their kids as they grow up is directly related to how they, as students, will conduct themselves when on their own. When the hugs and good-byes subside (and they will), the college campus comes to life. Libraries are filled with opened books and typing fingers; houses, apartments, and dorms are filled with conversation and laughter; frat row is filled with flying Frisbees and 30 racks; and the quad is filled with just about everything.

Whether college freshmen sit down with a book or a beer — the choice is theirs.

Freshmen are now officially independent. It is all up to them. Whether they choose to sit down with a book or sit down with a beer — the choice is theirs.

For some kids, this shocking new freedom leads them to dive headfirst into everything they weren’t allowed to do at home. One thing almost all humans share is curiosity. When a parent simply says “no” or “it’s for your own good” — the curiosity levels only rise. People want to see for themselves.

Of course, kids can’t always hear “yes” and do whatever they want. But when a child grows up hearing “no” most of the time, it can be dangerous when all of a sudden that child has the power to say “yes.”

Related: When We Push Our Kids to Excel

The annoying curfew that used to accompany Saturday nights in high school now can be replaced with a quick text to Mom that may or may not tell the truth about your whereabouts. The strict no-alcohol policy can be replaced with bars, frat parties, and a brand new ID that says you’re 22 and from another state. The “no-boys-allowed-in-your-bedroom-with-the-door-closed” rule can be replaced with — well, use your imagination.

When a child grows up only hearing “no,” it can be dangerous when all of a sudden that child has the power to say “yes.”

During the first week or two of the school year, an astounding number of ambulance sirens can be heard as kids are carted off to the hospital. Though freshmen aren’t the only ones who suffer from alcohol poisoning, it’s safe to say that transitioning from a situation of no control to complete control can lead to a little too much experimentation for some.

Parenting is a hard job, one that doesn’t come with a manual containing all the correct answers for all the tough problems. However, when it comes to adolescents, parents need to focus more on preparing them for the world — and focus less on protecting them from the world.

The author is a college student in New York. 

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