Understanding Developmental Issues and the Transition to University Life

To become accustomed to your student’s growing independence will require adjustments for you and for your student. Here are some of the many changes taking place for your student during this time of life:

  • Greater Independence: Students must learn to take care of themselves in important new ways, and they must be increasingly self-reliant while still depending on parents in many ways. Their need for support from family may alternate, seemingly unpredictably, with their need for distance.
  • Developing Intimacy: Typically, students develop strong ties with peers, important intimate relationships with both friends and romantic partners, and greater self awareness within relationships.
  • Changing Family Roles: Within the family, students need to re-negotiate important aspects of their relationships, including family roles and boundaries. This last task is often the most difficult for students and their parents to navigate, and can be challenging when dealing with issues such as control and sharing of information.
  • Intellectual Growth: University is a time of life in which students experience rapid intellectual growth, and explore different ideas, opinions, and ways of thinking. The student in your life may express thoughts and feelings with which you strongly disagree, or their intellectual development may spark related interests in you.
  • Identity Development: Students at this age are exploring different facets of identity, and may experiment with different styles and behaviours. This is part of developing a sense of themselves as unique individuals with value and importance.

Popular Books:

  • Don’t Tell Me What To Do: Just Send Money, by Helen Johnson and Christine Schelhas-Miller, (2000).

Campus Resources:

McMaster phone – (905) 525-9140

  • Student Wellness Centre – Ext.27700
  • Dean of Students – Ext.27455
  • Residence Life – Ext.23200
  • Student Accessibility Services – Ext.28652
  • Chaplaincy Office – Ext.24207
  • First Year Orientation – Ext.266.91
  • Security – Ext.88 or (905) 522-4135

Community Resources:

  • COAST Crisis Line (905) 972-8338
  • Suicide Prevention Line (905) 522-1477

 Adapted from website at Tufts University