Maintaining Ties While Establishing Your Independence

Building Bridges Between Family and College

Carrying Memories Forward: Adapting Family Traditions for College Life

College is a time when you start to break away from your family in substantial ways. This is a necessary but sometimes bumpy time in your life. Whether or not you're close to your siblings or parents, you could probably use some tips on navigating this change.

Help with Expenses

Most of the time, parents contribute to their child's college expenses. This may or may not be a significant amount of money, but either way, it can be tricky because it can feel as though it comes with strings attached. This could be in a big way, with your parents telling you what you must study, or it could come in smaller ways, with them overseeing your budget and making various restrictions. Some amount of supervision may not be unreasonable, and you may want to discuss this further with them.

Another thing to consider is taking out student loans. You may not have the credit history to get a private loan on your own, and even if you do, you may be able to get better interest rates with a cosigner. But this might be something your parents cannot or are not willing to do for you, or you may not want to ask them. At the same time, asking someone else for this level of repayment commitment can also be difficult since they will be responsible for the loan if you are unable to repay it. You can review a guide that can help you better understand what to consider and how to go about talking to people about this.

Celebrating Your Achievements: Sharing College Milestones with Family

Living at Home

Living at home can be easier on you financially and make it easier to take care of your health on a busy schedule, but harder in other ways. It may be more difficult to establish your independence than if you moved out. There are a couple of different things to consider if you're planning to live at home while attending classes. One is that you should try to contribute to the household in some way. This might mean paying some rent, doing chores, or buying your own food. It's possible that you come from a family that just finds this culturally unacceptable, but as much as you can, you should try to help.

Increased desire for independence can clash with parental control at home. Lifestyle differences might force a costly move-out, but some families navigate this transition smoothly while others face friction.

Staying in Touch

Moving out, whether near or far, requires a conversation with your family about staying connected. If you're close by, resist the frequent urge to run home for laundry, meals, or a pick-me-up. Indulge occasionally, but view this as a chance to develop skills to handle these situations independently. Similarly, if you're used to seeking parental guidance on every decision, try to hold off. Consider establishing a dedicated weekly video call, especially with younger siblings you miss, to maintain that regular connection.


Consider planning your communication boundaries with family in advance. This includes deciding how much information you'll share and the level of involvement you desire from them in different areas of your life. Will you discuss your dating life, friend troubles, or academic struggles with them? This will help establish clear expectations and avoid potential misunderstandings.


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