Letting Go: Karen Coburn makes college transition easier for students and parents

Karen L. Coburn is an expert on the college experience.

Karen Coburn, Associate Dean for Freshman Transition, discusses the tranistion parents and students face upon beginning college.

She is co-author of the acclaimed book, “Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years,” which, in its fourth printing, has sold nearly 300,000 copies. Coburn is often quoted in the national and international media for her tips on helping students and parents make a smooth transition from high school to college — from what to bring, to what to expect, to how to stay in touch.

“I tell parents to recognize that this is a big transition but have faith in your parenting. Your kids know the values you have instilled in them and they will be taking those values with them to college,” Coburn says.

“Enjoy the pleasures of technology. Use cell phones and Instant Messaging, but don’t overdo it. Let your child take the lead in setting communication patterns, and don’t expect answers to all of your e-mails,” Coburn says.

“Also, learn about the services your child’s college has to offer. Then when you get those inevitable phone calls about a disappointing grade, a roommate conflict or doubts about a major, you can act as a coach, not a rescuer. You can encourage your daughter or son to talk to the professor or resident advisor, to go to a tutoring center or counseling service. Often the best support parents can give their college-age children is to encourage them to take charge of their own college experience.”