University is often a time when parents struggle to cut the cord and students struggle to embrace their new independence — it’s no surprise the whole event can get as messy as a freshman’s dorm room.
Coping with independence is something all adults have to learn and the tumult of university can muddy up the waters even more by throwing grades and money into the mix.
Once a son or daughter is older than 18, their parents’ only access to the details of their education —courtesy of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act — comes from what they share personally, which is why it’s important to keep a good relationship going.
Brenda Bradstreet, Canadian author of the independence manual Going Solo, says parents can manage their anxiety by first realizing that letting go is healthy and they can still have a supporting role in their child’s new-found independence.
“The whole process can be very overwhelming — all of a sudden the house is empty. You have to keep yourself busy and keep your own life more active and social. If parents feel that their kids are prepared then I think it’s easier to let go,” Bradstreet said.
For students branching out on their own, often for the first time, the pressures and responsibilities of independence can be a bit scary — that’s why guidance and counselling services exist on all campuses for all students to make use of.
“Know yourself and don’t be afraid to think for yourself. Trust in your independence and make use of the resources that are available,” Bradstreet said.
Glen Weppler, director of student community life at Ryerson University, says extracurricular activities are crucial to learning independence.
“One of the best ways for students to move towards more independence is to get involved at school. You can volunteer, you can join a club, the list goes on but make sure you do more than just come to campus and attend class. You will be a more successful student for it,” Weppler said.