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Beginning of college marks transition period for students and parents

Gino Geruntino
Students leave their belongings on the sidewalk while they wait for help moving into their dorm rooms.

As summer vacation comes to a close, many students will be heading back to school for the year. But for some parents, their children are leaving home for college. Parents and their kids both have their own worries about that day.

Jolie Cotner recently graduated from high school and is attending SUNY Oswego for her freshman year. Her family lives several hours away in Rockland County, but Cotner says being away from home isn't going to be an issue.

"I'm really excited because I get to start the new chapter of my life, and I get to meet new people," Cotner said. "And I know that it's the right place for me here."

Danielle Tomlinson is also starting her freshman year. She says she was given good advice from those around her about her first semester in college.

"It's a new venture," Tomlinson explained. "I'm the first of my three siblings to go away for college, but it's been a very positive experience. I've had a lot of fun. You have to be optimistic. If you're not optimistic, it can be scary."

But incoming freshmen aren't the only ones who are apprehensive about the next four years. Susan Gambro was dropping her son off at college. She said she had some nervous feelings, but knows the experience is good for her son.

"I want him to enjoy himself," Gambro said. "I don't want him to just all work, all work, all work. I want him to meet new people and, you know, fly a little bit."

For parents with only one child or those sending their last child off to college, those feelings may be even stronger.

But Psychotherapist Kimberly Key said the reason parents may get emotional watching their children go off to college is simple.

"Any good parent is going to have that same thing because they put their children first on some level, and now all of a sudden that goal, that focus, is gone," Key explained. "There's a readjustment period."

But Key said parents, just like their children, will have to adapt to the many changes that going off to college will bring.

“This is your time to birth your soul, and the focus gets to shift on you now," Key said. "You kind of get to parent yourself, so that’s the opportunity. And it's not a one-night fix. It's a true transition, they're transitioning into adulthood."