The College Transition

Transitioning from High School to college can be difficult.

With support the transition can be smooth and even enjoyable.


You're in High School

As a high school junior or senior, the anticipation of college is all around you. It’s exciting, competitive, and all-consuming. It may even get a little overwhelming or anxiety-provoking. You’re balancing school, extracurriculars, friends and family and it can be hard to fit college preparation into your already full schedule and it can be really hard to add additional stress to your already full mind. Talking to a counselor – even just a few times – can be enormously helpful. It is a space just for you, to help you to be the best person you can be. It is a place to quiet the noise of your life and talk about this incredibly important time of transition, and anything else that’s on your mind, too.

You Just Graduated from High School

You’ve been accepted to college; you’re leaving high school behind. If you’ve been to counseling before, this is a great time for a tune up. If you haven’t been to counseling, this is also a good time to touch base and talk about this big change. Here are a few things worth discussing with a therapist:

  • How to say healthy goodbyes
  • How to make the most of your Freshman year of college
  • Learn how to identify when you might need to ask for help or some support while you’re away at school
  • If you are on medication, how to plan ahead to manage any break-through symptoms that can pop up during transitions and when in a new environment

You're in College

You made it! Now the newness has worn off, you know your way around campus and your new life has begun. Somehow…it’s not how it was supposed to be. Maybe you have acquaintances but haven’t found your group. Maybe you’re feeling a little lonely, a little adrift and not super connected there. Maybe it feels to you like everyone else has found their people and their major and it’s somehow easier for them than it is for you. Maybe you’re considering transferring – but the money! The time investment! Start over at a new school?! Take a breath. You are not alone. Let’s talk about it and figure out your path.

Stacy Creamer

A Word to Parents

Congratulations - You got them to the finish line! Maybe you’re just catching your breath only to realize that everyone around you is stretching for the start of the next marathon. You may be wondering…How do I support them from a distance? Are they really ready to go that far away? Did they pick the right school? Do they have enough inner resources and self-advocacy to get the help they need when they need it or do I have to step in? How would I step in…should I step in? What if college isn’t for them?

Although I am not a couple’s counselor, I can help you navigate these and other questions, uncertainties and sources of discomfort related to this major transition. I can help you navigate how best to support your child before, during and after they leave for college. I have been a therapist for 21 years and 12 of those years were spent working in college mental health at art schools, state schools and large private universities. I have worked in the roles of staff therapist and as assistant director and director of mental health services. I can help you navigate the transition to college and demystify how to weave in mental health support, if needed.

Stacy Creamer
Click here for a wonderful article on What To Do When Your Kids Leave Home, by Psychologist Gretchen Schmelzer, Ph.D.

A Word About College Mental Health Care

After spending many years of my career as a psychotherapist working on college campuses, I can honestly say that the demand for mental health care is higher than it’s ever been and college mental health services are struggling to keep up. Most college mental health services offer a combination of groups, time-limited individual therapy, and referrals to the community. Sometimes there can be a delay to get connected and that can be difficult to endure when you really need the help.

My advice…
  • If you know you’ll want therapy while you’re away at school investigate resources in the weeks and months before you get to campus. Orientation is a great time to look into mental health care on campus.
  • Find out what mental health services the school offers and make an appointment as soon as you can. Once the school year starts, initial appointments (or Intakes) can schedule out a month or more. Some questions to ask include:
    • How many therapy appointments do you offer? Is it time-limited? How far apart are the appointments?
    • What if I need a referral to a private therapist off campus? Do you help with that and what’s the process?
    • What if I have a mental health emergency and I really need to talk to a professional therapist right away, not just to my RA?
  • If you’re in therapy at home, I recommend continuing to see your ongoing therapist by video, if possible, even just to touch base. If your therapist isn’t licensed in the state where you’re in college it won’t be possible to see them while you’re physically at school but it’s worth discussing with your therapist the notion of scheduled check-ins when you come home. Again, plan ahead. Your therapist is likely to book up during popular long weekends when college students come home. It’s better to book way ahead and cancel if your plans change than to miss an opportunity to see them while you’re home.

Whether we meet once or twice for a consultation or a tune-up, or we meet ongoing through the college transition process, I welcome your outreach and I’m glad to help you in any way I can.

I am licensed to practice therapy in Massachusetts and Florida.