Setting your teen up for success after graduation

May 3, 2022


You can almost feel the excitement build as your high school senior gets set to earn a diploma. Hooray for a job well done! For many teens, graduation means it’s time to plan for college in the fall. Leaving the nest can be stressful for kids — and parents too.

What your grad needs most is your love and support. Here are five ways to help get your grad going on the right foot.

1. Take your teen to the doctor

Among other things, the doctor will make sure your teen is up-to-date on vaccines that college students may need, such as meningitis shots, yearly flu shot and a COVID-19 vaccine. If your teen is transitioning to an adult primary care provider, help them choose a doctor they're comfortable with. Learn more about our primary care providers in Portland.

The doctor is also a great source of advice about staying healthy. Have a question? Just ask — and encourage your teen to do the same.

2. Encourage healthy habits

At home, your child gets well-balanced meals and a reminder to turn in early. But at college, he or she can just grab a pizza and stay up late on school nights. The result can be unwanted pounds, less energy and more stress.

On the other hand, it can be easier to adjust to campus life when your teen practices self-care. So remind your child to choose nutritious foods like fruits and veggies from the cafeteria too. Getting enough sleep (8 to 10 hours per night), exercising regularly and abstaining from alcohol will help them feel their best.

3. Have a conversation with your teen

It can be tough to talk with teens about topics like sex, drinking and drugs. But no matter how often you’ve had these conversations before, it’s a good idea to have them again. Remind your child of the importance of making good decisions — even in the face of peer pressure. Your family’s values will help guide you here. Check out our tips for having the talk with your teen.

4. Get acquainted with the campus health center

Many college campuses have health centers where students can go in the event of physical or mental illness. Find out where it’s located and what services are offered.

Does your child have a chronic health condition? If so, you may need to contact the health center to make sure they have your child’s medical history and prescriptions for refills.

5. Keep in touch

Your grad will just be a phone call or text message away. When you talk with your teen, ask how things are going. Be alert for warning signs that your teen is struggling to adjust, such as homesickness that doesn’t go away or feelings of sadness or hopelessness that last for two or more weeks.

Your child can talk to a campus counselor or the on-campus health clinic if he or she feels overwhelmed.

Other resources: Being prepared

Learn more about these teen health topics: