We spend a lot of time worrying about whether our teens are ready for college, but in fact, it is as much about whether we, as parents, are prepared. We have spent all of their life providing opportunities for growth, fun, and exploration, helped them learn how to be safe, and prepared them to succeed, so in theory, they are ready.
What changes is our role as parents – and it must change in order for our teens to become successful college students. Gone are the days of micromanaging, helicoptering, knowing their assignment due dates, knowing where they are at all times of the day and night, arguing (anything) on their behalf, and being able to remind them to make "good decisions."
We have to trust that our brilliant parenting has done the job and they are ready to survive on their own. Good parenting puts us out of a job. Once they leave for college, our new role is to reassure them that disappointments are not failures, encourage them, and provide advice – but only when they ask for it! What they need now is not protection, but resiliency.
College students need to be able to pick themselves up and move forward, solve problems that happen (and they will), and learn that perfection is NOT a goal. We need to encourage them to study what they love and let them select their own classes - which will lead to actually attending classes, reading more, showing up at office hours, and a better GPA, which are all correlated with opportunities post- college.
They do need to be connected to home - sending care packages is great - but parents need to not panic when they do not answer their phone, or call us back for days at a time. If you are a worrier - make a standard time to talk each week, but do not panic when you do not hear from them. If they are integrating into campus life - they will not need us - and that is good.
Am I ready to parent a child leaving for college? Maybe. If I am not ready - can I keep her?