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Higher Ed in the News

Start of college can be harder on parents than freshmen

September 5, 2010

Even for average parents, the letting go is difficult -- more so, they and many others say, than it was for parents of college-bound freshmen in decades past. Some say it's often hardest for parents who remember the days when there were fewer support systems in place for students at colleges and universities.

A dean of students at one California college relayed a story about a mother who stayed in her daughter's dorm room with her for four nights to help her adjust (until the daughter's roommate complained).

Some parents also feel nostalgic as the realization hits that their role — one of their main purposes in life — is changing, says Marshall Duke, an Emory psychologist: "If it's a first child — my gosh, that's a sobering signal about the progress of life."

Increasingly, colleges and universities have noted the support parents need in letting go, so much that they are starting to formalize the goodbye.

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