Newswise — As the summer winds down, many students and their families are gearing up for the transition to college. This transition can sometimes be difficult for students, as well as their parents. Adia Gooden, PhD, postdoctoral clinical fellow at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, is available to comment on this anxiety-producing transition, and provide insights for students and their parents as they navigate the changes.

“The transition from high school to college is psychologically significant because this is often the first time that most students are living semi-independently,” says Dr. Gooden. “This is particularly true for students who live on campus or go away for college. Additionally, during college students must manage their schedules and workloads on their own.”

Dr. Gooden states that there are unique challenges for parents and their children as they embark on this transition. For students, moving away may cause anxieties about being far from their home and family. Additionally, students often worry about whether they will be able to succeed academically at their college: “Many high achieving students are accustomed to being the best students in their class,” says Dr. Gooden. “Going to a selective university can require students to adjust to being one of many high achieving students. Further, students who were not challenged academically in high school can sometimes face difficulties when they have to learn to study in order to succeed in more rigorous courses.”

Parents face different issues. Some parents have difficulty allowing their children to become independent and try to do things for their children that their children should be doing for themselves. Dr. Gooden says that it’s important for parents to come to terms with the transition of their children leaving home for college, and that they should acknowledge and process the range of feelings (e.g. sadness, joy, excitement, relief, anxiety) that can emerge through these transitions. “Parents should be careful not to manage their anxiety and other difficult feelings by trying to things for their children,” Dr. Gooden advises. “They should guide their children during the transition while giving their children the space to grow and learn to do things independently.”

Dr. Gooden points out that there are steps that both students and their parents can take in an effort to alleviate some of the stressors and anxieties of this transition. “A common misstep is for students to wait too long to ask for help if they are having difficulty in their first semester,” she says. “There are ways to get organized, get prepared, look into resources and get excited before school starts.”

Dr. Adia Gooden is a postdoctoral clinical fellow at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. Dr. Gooden has extensive experience working with young adults who are in college and graduate school and transitioning in and out of school. She spent three years training at college counseling centers (University of Chicago and University of Southern California) and enjoys supporting individuals as they learn and grow during this stage of life.

To speak to Dr. Gooden about issues facing students and their families during the transition to college, please contact Colleen O’Connor, Content & Grant Manager at The Family Institute, at [email protected] or 312-609-5300 ext. 485. To learn more about The Family Institute, visit us at

ABOUT THE FAMILY INSTITUTE AT NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY – For 45 years, The Family Institute at Northwestern University ( has been committed to strengthening and healing families from all walks of life through clinical service, education and research. An affiliate of Northwestern University, The Family Institute is a unique, innovative not-for-profit organization, governed by its own independent Board of Directors and responsible for its own funding. The Institute offers a wide range of high quality mental health counseling through our staff practice and our sliding-fee scale Bette D. Harris Family and Child Clinic, where we are committed to serving at-risk, under-resourced communities. The Family Institute also operates two nationally-renowned graduate programs in marriage and family therapy and counseling psychology in affiliation with Northwestern University, and conducts cutting edge research projects that lead to a better understanding and treatment of mental health issues.