Social Intelligence: Returning home from college for the summer

Contributed by Amanda Anastasio, M.S.W., L.C.S.W.

Now that you have fully adjusted to the increased freedom, friend time, fast food, work and responsibility at college, you face another big change – returning home for the summer! Your attitude about change impacts the way you perceive your situation, and in turn, how you manage it. So keep a positive mind set, you can handle this!

While some may have great relationships with parents and family back at home, others may be dreading the inevitable clash that occurs when you have different expectations than your parents about how the summer will go.

Mother and daughter washing dishes together

Photo credit: © Leah Warkentin/Design Pics/Corbis

Tips for livin’ at home

  • If you are going to be living at home, you have to contribute.  During the school year you cleaned up your dorm room, and did your laundry, right? (Well let’s hope you did for your roommate’s sake….) So you should continue to take this initiative while at home. In fact, do more than what is expected of you; your parents will recognize your contribution and appreciate your effort, which will help grow the relationship and send a message of independence.
  • Get a job. Lying on the couch will get old, and you will be bored out of your mind. Filling your time with a job, and getting paid is a great way to experience the working world, make new friends, and again, show your parents that you are stepping up and being an adult. The sooner they see you as an adult, the faster they will treat you as one.
  • Talk with your parents up front about curfew, friends, romantic partners coming to visit – or anything you think might cause tension. Ask them what they want or need in order to come to a compromise. Try to see their point of view; if you hear them out, chances are they will be more willing to hear you out.

In addition to your parent dilemma, you made a whole new group of friends while at college, who, for the most part, are now absent for the summer months. How do you keep up these important relationships while managing old high school friends?

Maintaining and sustaining lasting and healthy relationships

Studies have shown that supportive friends allow us to live longer and better lives. You may feel you have changed since going to college, and some of your old friends feel distant. Recognize and accept if there are some people with whom you now have evolving interests from or life goals. An important aspect of maturing is choosing your own circle of friends, people who support you and make you feel good about yourself.

  • For the ladies: There is an added benefit for you! Researchers suspect that women respond and alleviate stress differently from men because of the hormone oxytocin that is releasedand the fact that estrogen works to enhance it. This encourages women to “tend and befriend” instead of the expected “fight or flight” as suggested by previous research. Biologically, women who focus on friendships and taking care of each other can better control their stress levels and stay calmer during hard times.

    Girl talking on a cell phone, smiling

    Photo credit: Richard X. Thripp

With all these health benefits, you can’t afford not to keep your friends close!

Best ways to stay connected to your friends over the summer

  • Call them. A quick chat is more personal than a text message. I know it’s easier to text but when you make time to actually pick up a phone you send a message that this person is important to you and you want to stay a part of their life. Let your buds know they are worth the time and effort!
  • Send pictures, private jokes, videos, articles, and anything that shows them you know who they are and think of them often. This can help keep you reminded of why you enjoy each other and keep the relationship fresh.
  • Plan visits. The best way to keep relationships healthy and strong is regular contact, over the phone and face time! Meet somewhere halfway between the two of you, or if they are just too far, set up a Skype account to make sure you see their mug a few times over the summer!

How do you manage parents and keep up with friends during the summer? Write a comment below.

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52 thoughts on “Social Intelligence: Returning home from college for the summer

    • Thanks Mikalee! I think there’s a lot that parents can learn just by reading this, too. They can definitely start the conversation. It’s all about good communication, right?!

  1. This is a great post!! I think that so many students are sad to leave home to go to college (at least, partially), but when they come back home in the summer, it’s like they completely forget how to relate to the family. Your tips are fantastic!

    I work at a college, and I think I may just have to pass these tips along to our students! 🙂

    • Thanks! You’re right. I think most college kids have a mixture of emotions when they first get to college: anxiety, nervousness, excitement, homesickness. But then parents have to drag them out of there at the end of the year. Hopefully, these tips will help parents and students alike. Thanks for passing this along 🙂

  2. I don’t know any students whose parents make enough money to NOT work all summer – or not spend all summer LOOKING for a job.

    I do keep in touch with friends, though – after work, I like to hang out with friends by going to lunch, and I’m always texting people! Luckily, I’ve also had the chance to go on a road trip to visit a far-away friend. All three of us enjoyed that!

    • I know what you’re saying. Most students do have to work during the summer. I know my parents wouldn’t have let me sit around the house all day haha. I’m glad that you’re able to keep up with your friends, though. They’re such an awesome support system.

  3. Great post…perhaps a part 2 might be in order? Addressing what to do when you return home for the summer and you do not get along whatsoever with your family. I know you covered this to a point, but what to do when your family and you are at odds 24/7, and how to alleviate some of that for the few summer months…

    • That’s a good idea. I’ll suggest it to Amanda Anastasio, the contributor of this post. Maybe she has some tips for that specific situation. Would you have any tips to share about that? Thanks for reading!

      • I don’t haha, I’m heading off to college this fall, and wanted some tips for next summer. I’m going so far away from my hometown cause my family life is really poor these days.

      • Sorry to hear that. Hopefully it gets better soon and hopefully these tips will be useful for you in the future. Check out more posts on our blog. They may be helpful.

  4. Pingback: Social Intelligence: Returning home from college for the summer (via MyStudentBloggy) « A Bit of Everything

  5. This is a great post. I particularly agree with having an open conversation about curfews and romantic partners. It can be stressful for college students, who just had months of freedom on their own, to come home to parents who may not be on the same page. It’s also stressful for parents to make sure their kids stay safe and are responsible. So there can be a lot of tension there!

  6. I giggled at the part about curfews.
    Hardest part about moving back home is having to deal with parents’ house rules again. A lot of parents forget that after college, their kids are adults now and have their own “world” going on. I remember my mom refused to negotiate on curfew and thought she still had total control over me. Boy it was not pretty for the first summer. XD

  7. This is the question I had! I am staying in the U.S over the summer and I miss my friends very much.
    Thanks for the advice! I better get start to get a job :).

  8. There’s also the option of just not going home… most of my friends got apartments and didn’t move back for the summers. It was a lot of work, but it was definitely worth it, and it made the transition from college to the real world much easier.

    • I totally get what you’re saying. I stayed at college for the summer from junior to senior year and it definitely helped me grow as person. I worked a lot! Independence is key to growing up, I think, and the more you can start the rely on yourself, the better you’ll be once you hit the real world.

  9. Ha! I only made the mistake of returning to my parents after my first year… then I figured out it is much easier to just ride out the summer in the city where I went to school.

    • Great! I’m glad these tips are helpful. Let us know how it goes this summer and keep checking back for more information on our other topics. If you liked this post, you and your son or daughter will also like the other stuff we have posted on here. 🙂

  10. I hope many college students see this. I am a recent graduate and it wasn’t my first summer that was hard it was my second. In my second year I learned what freedom from parents was and what a great feeling it was. Needless to say that summer was torture for my parents and for me. I despised them and in return they didn’t know how to communicate with me since I was unapproachable. The main thing to remember is you’re never to old for your parents. You will always need them. Not just financially they’re also a great support system. I wish I had known the first steps mentioned in the article and maybe I wouldn’t have rushed back a month early and could have saved our family some trouble.

    • Communication is key! I think this is true for so many situations in life and not just this one. Whenever you can have open and honest communication, it will help you and other person involved achieve greater understanding and closeness. It’s not always easy, though, that’s for sure! Thanks for reading 🙂

  11. Just finished college forever, and I definitely remember back to the first two summers that I spent at home. They were miserable with the amount of free time I had and the lack of activities to feel it in with.

    Having this tips explicitly listed would’ve been a godsend when I was going through it because learning it the trial-and-error method was torturous.

    • Hmmm. That’s a great question. I’m not sure I’m an authority on that subject, but it may be a great post for one of our contributors to ponder in the coming weeks. Let me see what I can do!

  12. Excellent – my kids need to read this. Sometimes I think they were on vacation. Just like summer vacation when in grade school.

  13. Hi, I’m going back to my country in this summer holiday (I’m an expat student). Well, I don’t wanna elaborate this but let’s stick to the point: going back to your own country after spending a year or two for college isn’t as easy. You have to re-adjust yourself to the customs/curfews/social rules applied in your country’s society which is totally different from the country you had a college in. Especially in my case ’cause I’m in Europe whereas I come from Asia.

    • That’s an interesting perspective. I bet Asian and European social customs are soooo different. What tips do you have to share for others that may be going through the same thing? How do you re-adjust yourself?

  14. Yes those days were something I’ve moved well beyond those now. I’ve been on my own quite awhile. Interesting blog come visit sometime. http;//

  15. Great Post. Another tip I would give to someone coming home for the summer is to never forget to take time out for YOU. It’s easy become too involved during the summer(work, catching up with old friends, family obligations, or summer courses, etc.). Make sure you carve out some time for you. Read those books you kept saying you wanted to read but never had time. Get your fitness on. Get adequate sleep. Get some sun (but not too much). Catch up on that TV show you missed while you were away because you didn’t have that channel on Campus. Point is, taking time out for you this summer will help minimize your stress and anxiety just as much as being social and active. It’s essentially all about finding the right balance to either avoid a summer burnout or recover from a year’s worth of stress and anxiety one might experience at school.

  16. This is a great topic, I’m a university student going home for the summer for the first time. i already have a job and contribute around the house, I’m finding that what im starting to get upset about is leaving my friends (who i have been seeing on a daily basis) for 4 months and this post i think will really help me. Thanks.

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