8.17.16 | LISA HEFFERNAN and JENNIFER BREHENY WALLACE
The conventional wisdom after college drop-off is to wait and let your freshman reach out to you, but parents may want to rethink that advice. Growing research shows this is a high-risk time for depression, alcohol abuse and sexual assault.
The first few weeks of college are one of the riskiest windows: Many kids are independent for the first time and living with people they don’t know with a completely different sets of norms, said Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health and director of the PRO Health Lab at Penn State.
Parents may feel their influence on their incoming freshman has waned to almost nothing, but research suggests they can still play a significant role in mitigating risky behavior. Yes, your teens have one foot out the door, but continuing to talk openly with them, so that they know that you are aware of and care about their friends and activities, has been shown to positively influence the choices they make while they’re away.
We interviewed experts for their evidence-based advice on helping teens safely navigate the risky early weeks of college. Here’s what they had to say. (Interviews have been edited and condensed.)