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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Emptying the nest

Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tim Glass
Tim Glass / Arizona Daily Wildcat

A student’s first semester away from home can be both an exhilarating and stressful experience for all parties involved.

Parents preparing to send their children to the UA have to figure out how to stay connected with their newly independent children.

“”Every fall semester we see a lot of students at CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services) who are having a hard time adjusting,”” said Glenn Matchett-Morris, assistant director of Counseling and Psychological Services at Campus Health Service.

Matchett-Morris said students can face many challenges, ranging from being away from home for the first time, to being independent, to missing old friends and feeling like they don’t fit in.

“”Typically, it is that first semester that is the most difficult and requires the most adjustment,”” Matchett-Morris said.

Parents’ adjustment to the change can be as varied as their children’s.

In some cases, the parents have prepared themselves and their children to be independent so the change is easier, according to Matchett-Morris.

“”Some go through quite a period of anxiety and worry. Some have a hard time letting go and try to micromanage from afar. And some, particularly if this is their only child or the last one out of the house, experience what is commonly called ‘empty nest syndrome,’ where it might take time for them to adjust and recreate a new life for themselves once the parents are all alone,”” Matchett-Morris said.

For UA president Robert Shelton, each experience was unique.

Shelton said that his three children all happened to choose Stanford, his alma mater, which was about a two-hour drive from his home.

“”That was ideal in many ways. They could come home for the holidays and breaks between terms, but they were independent and had to do their own laundry,”” Shelton said.

The short distance allowed his children to visit the university and gain a sense of familiarity prior to attending it. 

Shelton said each of his children met different challenges, but when they came home after their first term, they were all exhausted from studying for finals.

“”Regarding preparation, I think that fundamentally the preparation has been coming for 18 years — in the home, by the parents and neighbors and friends and extended family,”” Shelton said.

Shelton said he thinks parents and students have a big advantage today with all of the technology available.

“”My advice to parents is that you know your child better than anyone else. You can have confidence in their judgment. You can be there for them when questions arise and while the questions may be more complex than during their earlier youth, just being available is the key,”” Shelton said.

Ted Glazer, a Maryland resident and parent of an incoming UA freshman, is also planning on being available and making use of technology to bridge the gap between Arizona and Maryland.

“”We are going to Skype a lot,”” Glazer said.

Parent Mark Johnson said he didn’t think it would be too bad because he had already experienced a child go through college and is only about a six-hour drive from the UA.

“”I think if they’ve been accepted to the University of Arizona they are going to be well prepared,”” Johnson said.

Johnson also said it was important to always be available and he recommended staying in touch at least once a week.

When Johnson’s daughter started college, the family set up Sunday afternoons as the time to call and check in.

“”And of course today you can text, but I try not to do that. I let them do it,”” Johnson said.

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