How can I let go of my college student? Will she be OK?

Dramatic shot of entrance to Northrup Hall

by Leslie Wan —

From the moment my daughter, Christina, was born, we placed her on a college trajectory. When she was young, it was just a thought. “One day she will go.” Then came the related thoughts – “Where would she go? What would she study? Will she work hard to get a scholarship?”

As high school progressed and her time home came closer to an end, she did all the pre-college applications. We both conducted research and went through all kinds of college options. She made her decision to attend Trinity University. We had visited it, spoken to department chairs, admissions, students, and experienced the city – the whole enchilada. After all that, we both loved it and knew it was the perfect fit for her.

Fast forward to move-in time, to leave her there and go back home. Wait, what? Noooo, she isn't ready. More to the point, I was not ready! Ah, but of course, now came reality. Before, the idea of college had been just a dream. But now I had all the thoughts that we as parents worry about – safety, homesickness, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Leslie and Christina Wan
Leslie and Christina Wan

I gave great thought to the last words of wisdom I needed to give her before I left her to start her future. In the end my words were very simple. "Don't waste our hard earned college money and don't forget the values we taught you!" Really that pretty much says it all, doesn't it? I didn't even get the eye roll for that one! All we had taught her, all we had prepared her for, all she had worked for, was remembered. They do remember what you’ve taught them.

It's up to you to have faith that your lessons are inside them and that they understand that while it's fun, it counts! Hiccups along the way, sure there probably will be, but resources and opportunities abound at Trinity to counter that. Let them go, celebrate the new journey with them and believe in them. OK, I will forever have one eye open in her direction, but that is the definition of motherhood, no matter their age, isn't it? I learned through the Trinity days that she was going to take my dream from her "baby days" and make it her own.

About Leslie

As a mother, Leslie embraced her passion of working with and for children and supporting her daughter's academic endeavors. She spent her “free time” on a scholarship board, charitable speaking events, and working with a food pantry. To enjoy quality time and teach the value of community service to her then-teenaged daughter, they volunteered at a school for special needs children. A 2010 graduate from Trinity, daughter Christina now works as a university student administration professional, and Leslie continues to pursue special needs work and her passion for personal/professional writing and public speaking. She writes a blog (, and speaks and volunteers in support of the special needs community in Jamaica.


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