Is Your Teen Headed Back to College? Strategies for Success

Is Your Teen Headed Back to College? Strategies for Success|

Written By Melanie Studer

Melanie Prather Studer has spent the last thirty years as a mother and teacher- preschool through middle school. When her kids became teenagers, Melanie started keeping notes and doing research to help her children get a head start on getting into college and ultimately out into the real world. She shares real world ideas and solutions for raising teens in today’s world.

July 1, 2020

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Have you got a teen headed back to college in a few days?

Have you had a great holiday/summer together? Are you ready for them to go back? If you have a teen headed back to college then here are some tips for success that can be discussed with your student.

Our break been such a great time together!  It is amazing how “smart” my boys now are! The opinions keep on rolling out about everything! Evidently my husband and I aren’t really in the know about anything! (Insert rolling eyes here!)

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Do You Have a Teen Headed Back to College?|

All joking aside, going back to school can be stressful for many of our kids. They might not have had a very good semester/year scholastically. There may be roommate drama.

The food was probably not what they expected:) There may also be social issues that are bothering them. Maybe they didn’t make as many friends as they thought that they would.

Have they changed majors?  Not had the experience that they were hoping for?  It’s never too late to try some new strategies for improving life at college!

Before they leave, sit down and talk with you teen about what their expectations are for the next semester. Do they have any worries? Do they need some different strategies to move forward? Honest conversations and a listening ear might go a long way towards easing their minds.

Going to college is stressful, even under the best of circumstances! Classes, roommates, scheduling time for activities and studying are all considerations. Encourage your teen to think through some strategies for success before they head back to school. *This post may contain affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click the link and make a purchase.

(As our teens head back during this time of COVID, be sure that you have some of these conversations that you might not otherwise have to think about. Let them know of any plans that might need to be if their campuses are suddenly closed down–what should they do?)

Get more sleep

Sleep is a great healer. It helps our bodies to reset for the next day. Adults should get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Sleep helps our brains to think–seriously, fewer mistakes are made after a good night’s sleep. Creativity and attention span are also improved after the right amount of zzzzzzz’s. Encourage your student to set a schedule and include enough time for sleep, including time for the occasional nap!

Create a working schedule

Note the use of the word “working”. That means that the schedule is a work in progress. Tweaks and adjustments can be made at any time to make it more functional. If something isn’t working, then change it.

As your teen is headed back to college, they need to schedule in plenty of time for studying. If your student has a part-time job, then maybe it needs to be more part time. Keeping track of grades is a great indicator of any adjustments that need to be made.


Have a frank discussion with your teen about your expectations for grades versus the amount of partying that you might be seeing on your teen’s Instagram. If you are paying for their education, then it is all right for you to set the parameters.

If they are paying (or have taken out loans), then the discussion still needs to take place. They need to know that the bill will be arriving as soon as they graduate, and even if they quit, they will owe the amount of the loans. This might be the piece of sobering information that they are needing.

Tidy Up

How many of you are addicted to Marie Kondo’s show, Tidying Up? I binge watched the whole first season! Tidiness is not my strength at all. But, I do know that when my space is clear and things have their own place, it is so much more relaxing and comfortable.  

Encourage your teens to try to keep their space back in the dorm/apartment fairly clean. It will help with their concentration for studying and with their sleep as well!

I know my boys have enjoyed having their own rooms for the break-space and room to really spread out! Of course, their rooms are complete messes right now, so I will be happy for those rooms to be clean again.

Talk to the roommate

Your teen is headed back to college, so encourage them to have a discussion with their roommate about next semester now. Let your teen know that their roommate may have things that they want to say to them as well. It is a conversation that could relieve a lot of pressure on both sides.

Start the conversation with the roommate by asking if there is anything that they would like to be different for the rest of the year or for the upcoming year. Hopefully, that will open up a dialogue. Remind your teen to stay positive, and not accusatory. Try to find compromises for the main things that are bothersome to each roommate. They might even try to write a roommate agreement for this next semester.

Exercise regularly

One more thing for your your teen headed back to college to remember, is that exercise is one of the best stress relievers there is! This is a great thing for them to add to their working schedule, and make a real effort to fit it in at least 3 times a week. Going to the gym is a great place to meet up with friends or to make new friends.

They should try different classes, different workout times, and different workouts to see what works best for them. There is no perfect answer, but switching things up is good for their body and makes things more fun, too.

Exercise is important as your teen heads back to college!


Heading back to school should hopefully be better if your teen considers trying even a couple of these strategies. Let them know you are always at the other end of a phone call or text, and that you love them no matter what.

Also remember that these kids will dump their buckets on us, and move on, so don’t take their stress on yourself either. Keep the lines of communication open, and keep encouraging them to take baby steps toward relieving their stress. Every little bit helps!

Do you have any good ideas for student stress relief? Please share this post with a friend, if you think that it would help someone’s child away at college. Remember, you can always pin it for later as well.

Related posts: Backpack Essentials for High School and CollegeWhat Will Your Freshman Actually Need in Their Dorm Room? and 10 Tips For Making a College Care Package,Preparing an Emergency Road Trip Kit for Your Teen

A wonderful post written by a good friend of mine about going back to school.  It has all sorts of links to many teen/college bloggers.  Check it out here!

Have you read my book?  College Bound: The Ultimate List of Conversations to Help Your Child Through High School. Here is the blog post I wrote in conjunction with the book with even more helpful tips.

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1 Comment

  1. First semester can be hard for freshmen in college. Making a constructive plan and helping your teen overcome is key! And reminding them that any time you have big changes in life their are bound to be adjustments!!


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