Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

College jitters or cause for concern?

Carolyn Hax on

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn:

I have a young relative who's headed off to college soon, who is feeling more than the usual allotment of jitters. She's otherwise a confident, outgoing, smart, emotionally balanced young woman from a loving and secure home. Any suggestions for how to support her from a distance without being intruding or overbearing?

-- College Jitters

Define "more than the usual allotment." What you describe is someone who's really well positioned to figure it out for herself.

Part of the maturing process is to experience the sensation of having none of your familiar footing anymore, and to establish yourself anew. If anything, college offers the advantage of having a whole class of people off-kilter at the same time you are, so the institution itself is there for her as it wouldn't be if, say, she were about to travel abroad by herself.

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Plus, people with strong families have strong safety nets to support them through this period of risk. Doesn't mean they aren't sleepless for weeks before they get there -- it just means they have more resources available to them if something goes wrong, and that knowledge can be an extra layer of comfort.

So. What signs are you seeing that she needs more than, say, a weekly howyadoin' text and an occasional care package?

Carolyn:

She's gotten herself homesick before she even gets there -- social media posts about stuff she'll miss from home (even though it's a 90-minute drive away). And I spoke to her mom recently who relayed similar concerns.

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