and Wings: Advice for New College Students and Their Parents
July 13, 2006
Mass. -- When thousands of teenagers leave home for college
this fall, will it be harder on them—or on the parents
they leave behind? The first days of college are an exciting
yet anxious time for first-year students and first-time college
“Sending a child off to college can feel overwhelming to
a parent, particularly if the school is far from home or when this
is the first child heading to school,” said Lori Tenser,
dean of first-year students at Wellesley College. “Just as
students are adjusting to a new stage in their lives, so too do
parents find that there is an adjustment period when their daughters
and sons leave to begin their college careers.”
To help with
the transition, the team in Tenser’s office
has produced a new 20-page Parents’ Guide on the ins and
outs of life as a parent of a Wellesley student. The booklet offers
information on everything that parents need to know about Wellesley,
including a list of online and printed resources. Having a resource
for all their questions will quell much parental anxiety and establish
some boundaries for parental involvement.
ends, parents will bring children to college for the first time – and then go home alone. To ease that process,
Tenser hopes families will take advantage of programs and technologies
that help. Most colleges and universities offer parents their own
set of orientation events, and web access to considerable information
about what’s happening on campus. However, parents should
realize that the level of involvement they may have had during
the high school years may need to change.
“One of my favorite adages comes from a hand-stitched sampler
hanging on the wall in a New England country inn,” said Tenser. “It
reads, ‘There are two gifts parents must give their children.
One is roots, the other is wings.’” Parents must begin
to let their daughters and sons make their own choices and, yes,
their own mistakes, according to Tenser.
do face a new level of freedom and responsibility when they leave
to attend college for the first time. To ease
their transition to college, Tenser advises students to start making
social connections this summer on a college’s online social
network, such as the new password-protected MyWellesley.
“While personal portals such as MySpace.com and Facebook.com
are popular ways to form social networks, they can become problematic
if students share too much personal information with the greater
world,” Tenser said. “The college version is designed
to connect incoming students to each other and to the college,
using a combination of functions such as e-mail, chats and discussions,
along with access to articles on featured topics and links to important
networks boast built-in privacy—and can
launch new friendships even before students take their first steps
"MyWellesley offers our students a safe space for having
these interactions and for establishing new relationships they
will sustain as they enter their college years,” Tenser said.
Advice for students, from students
presents a week of student orientation at the end of August in
are assigned a First-Year Mentor (FYM),
an older student who helps them build a new life on campus. When
one new FYM posed the recent online question, “What Should
First Years Know?,” upperclass students responded with insider
tips for making the home-to-college transition:
important, veteran students recommend embracing new opportunities.
“Take a class or join an activity about something that
sounds interesting that you have never tried or that you don’t
think you are particularly talented at,” one student said. “You
might surprise yourself—and that is what the college is for.”
• Follow the “Roommate Starter Kit,” online
at which helps roommates get to know each other, establish ground
rules and open lines of communication. Conversation starters include “My
friends would describe me as someone who…” and “This
is how I feel about my possessions, if you’d like to borrow
or use them.” Wellesley’s kit is online at www.wellesley.edu/ResLife/pdfs/RoommateStarterKit.pdf.
advantage of free tutoring and skill-building workshops through
departments and the tutoring center. Get to know
professors early in the semester. Go to faculty office hours with
questions and concerns.
the locations of computer labs and public computers in dormitories,
and libraries, even if you bring your
own laptop. Computers may crash at the worst possible moment. And
back up your work on a disk.
out where the nearest drug store, grocery store, post office
transportation is located. Check out local
libraries and nearby malls. If your college has a shuttle bus,
take a trial run to see where it goes.
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an
excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference
in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300
undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. For
more information, go to www.wellesley.edu.