Last edition we asked parents: How did you cope when your first or only child left for U-M? What helped with the transition? What would you like to share with other first-time U-M parents? Here are some helpful suggestions and experiences from other Michigan parents and families.
Trust that the University of Michigan has transition down to a science. Our son is in his second year at U-M and we are SO IMPRESSED. We are an out of state family and I would recommend U-M to anyone that wants a "Tier One university with Midwestern values." Every question we have had has been answered promptly and courteously. Believe that the staff at U-M wants to help you because they really do!
Use the calendar U-M gives first year parents at orientation. Then order one every year after. It gives you important dates and reminders of life on campus.
When my oldest started at UofM she asked for "space." It was a "don't call me, I'll call you" kind of discussion. She wanted to feel her way for the first time on her own, but knew we were there if she needed us. We scheduled weekly Skype times so she could check in and we texted sometimes more often. She felt really good about doing it her way. By her sophomore year she was living in a house further from central campus and used to call when she was walking to/from class. Again, this was her choice. She was so happy we let her do it her way instead of checking up as much as we wanted to! She is now ready to graduate as an independent woman (with a job) and we couldn't be more proud!
Stay connected but don't hover - give them time to adjust - give yourself time to adjust - in the end it's all good! April arrives sooner than expected!
My first born and my last born both attended U-M struggling through the first year. Anxiety took a toll on both my girls. I found the key to survival was 'listening', being there day and night, letting them know you understood how stressful it can be. Supporting them regardless of whether the fear was real or imagined. Holding their hand via phone or internet. Letting them know that their mother was still there for them with the 'first aid' kit. Send lots of little note cards as reminders.
I started cleaning out closets. It turned out to be a much bigger job than I expected, and led to other household jobs we had been neglecting. It really helped to focus on something else other than my daughter.
Even though I was so thrilled that my daughter was going to University of Michigan, I thought that I would feel a tremendous sad void in my and our family's life when she left. She is a light in our family's life and a real leader at home, so I knew that I would miss her. She arrived at Michigan and immediately became integrated into student life, her coursework, and friends. She was so happy. I did not bug her with a lot of calls, but texted a couple of times a week. Receiving communication from her about how happy she was made me feel so great. Friends were asking me: "How are you doing? Do you miss her so much?" I told them that I was surprised to say that I did not miss her, because I was so joyful, and frankly relieved, that she loved school so much.
If you are able to tour the university and walk around the campus and experience the surroundings that your student is going to experience then this should remove a great deal of stress. Also, I believe that the university takes their students’ safety very seriously. In my opinion, the University of Michigan is a great institution and I am grateful that my family members were and still are current students.
Brief texts between you and your student are simpler and more likely than phone/Skype updates. We've found texting to be a useful 'slow drip' connection and our daughter takes to it naturally. "Just saw the most adorable squirrel on the diag" tells me so much more than she even knows.
Our daughter is our youngest. Even though she is only 45 minutes away, I try to send a package every couple of weeks. I do this for my daughter at Florida State University and she said that it has been wonderful. Sometimes it is favorite snacks or just something little that I know she would enjoy. We are also a very close family. I make sure I send a text a day saying that I love her. We all need to hear that.
Be proud of yourself. You helped your freshman get to this marvelous place at which he or she has virtually unlimited resources to pursue excellence and fulfillment both professionally and personally.
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