Moving away to college or university can be a monumental step for many students. For many, this can be a time of great change, excitement and anxiety, both for parents and students.

Here are a few tips on how to manage your child’s transition to college or university as a parent.

Speak openly about finances ahead of time. It can be a stressful time for family finances and children may not know what to expect. Many students do not know what level of contribution you can make and where they may need to fill in the gaps through loans or part time employment. Making a plan together is beneficial in reducing potential stress as well as setting expectations for what kind of lifestyle they can expect while away at school. Highly encourage your kids to seek out grants and scholarships. There are vast opportunities to find additional financial resources to contribute to education. There are some very specific scholarships based on the student’s family status as well as personal, academic and athletic achievements. Fairly minimal effort can result in thousands of dollars of education contributions.

Take some time before the big move. Many students work summer jobs right until the last moment. If finances allow for it, encourage your child to take some time between work and school to spend time with their friends and family. Consider taking a day to spend as a family before your child moves doing a fun activity. Students also part with longtime friends or perhaps a significant other with a college move, so encouraging them to spend extra time with the important people in their lives can be very meaningful.

Try to setup a regular time to keep in touch. How often you communicate will depend greatly on your relationship with your child. It’s nice to set aside a specific time to call or video chat just to keep in touch. Keep in mind that their schedules will change over the course of the school year with time periods that are more stressful, and time periods where they may lead a more active social life. Understand that some students are more independent and may not chat as often. Conversely some students struggle quite a bit while away. For students who struggle with home sickness, being away from family, friends or their significant others more frequent check-ins can be very valuable to them.

Encourage participation. There are endless opportunities for students to get involved in campus activities. Really try to encourage students to get involved in social clubs, but also find opportunities for personal and professional development. Many students realize after the fact that some of their most valuable networking and education takes place outside of the class room.

Consider adjusting at-home expectations. Many students don’t move away and go to school in their home town. For some families this is a struggle as students want to participate with their peers and may desire to adjust their lifestyle to something different than their high school days. Many parents struggle with this as they still see it as kids living under their roof and following their rules. Previously in-place norms such as curfews may be reconsidered and discussed to ensure everyone is aware of expectations. Ultimately, open communication and stating your expectations, while also listening to their concerns will lead to the least potential conflict.

Encourage exploration. Many students opt to move to a new city which offers a bounty of new opportunities and places to explore. When visiting them, considering getting off campus, exploring local sites and attractions. The benefit of living in a new place is taking in everything that a new city has to offer including sporting venues, museums, parks, hiking trails, etc.

Model healthy habits. It’s easy for students to quickly develop unhealthy habits with nutrition and exercise. There’s no question your kids are going to have late night pizza, all-nighters and binging on caffeine or other stimulating drinks. Recognize it’s going to happen and be open and honest with your kids. Encourage them to seek a balance and understand they will make unhealthy choices sometimes. Consider buying them a gym membership close to campus to stay active.

Speak openly about mental health. In this day and age there is a significant rise in mental health issues on campus. Anxiety is particularly prominent on campus with all the pressures students are feeling. If your child expresses concern listen openly, offer direction to resources on campus if that is helpful. Be careful about being a “helicopter parent” however. Post-secondary institutions have indicated that some students struggle with being self-reliant. Many of these students become adult age while at college and university so as much as it’s important to provide assistance and guidance, it can also be beneficial for them to learn to figure things out on their own.

Learn to let go… a little bit. For many parents it’s difficult to let go and not be involved in every part of their child’s life. Going off to school, particularly if students live in dormitories is the perfect opportunity for students to learn some valuable life lessons in a safe environment. They are able to make mistakes while learning and growing. It’s an incredible period of self-discovery and learning who they truly are.

Consider Student Accident Insurance. New environments and situations introduce new risk and having Student Accident Insurance provides greater peace of mind. Accidents can introduce financial burdens during an already financially stressful time. Feel secure knowing your family is protected from the financial impact if your child is involved in an accident. Learn more about available plans here.

You may have noticed many of the paragraphs began with “speak openly” and “encourage”. This is a pivotal transition in many students’ lives to adulthood and it’s a great opportunity to instill parental wisdom, while giving them the opportunity to grow in their own direction. They will make mistakes, they will struggle, but that is how they will learn.

Now you’re left with important questions such as… do you turn their old bedroom into a gym? A study?