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Helping Parents and Young Adults with the Transition to College

Maureen Tillman LCSWNew Jersey social worker Maureen Tillman, LCSW, has always been fascinated by life transitions.

So eight years ago she launched College with Confidence, a psychotherapy service that helps parents and college students deal with what can be one of life’s biggest changes — the period when teenagers leave home for college and transform into adults.

Tillman’s work with families and online articles attracted the attention of New York Times editor Tina Kelley. Tillman’s meetings with Kelley led to the August launch of “College Corner,” a blog on the New York Times’ specialty website serving Maplewood, Millburn, and South Orange, N.J.

College Corner has resources, tips and information for families going through the college process.

“It’s an educating role that’s I’ve taken about the importance of developing life skills as kids are growing and also about the mental health issues of students on college campuses,” Tillman said.

Many mothers and fathers can’t wait until their teenagers leave home, believing the hard part of parenting is over. But Tillman, who has a grown son who is a filmmaker and daughter who is a news reporter, said the most difficult times for parents could be just beginning.

Some children begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol and participating in risky sex practices in college, she said. Others become lonesome, anxious, depressed or develop mental illness. And suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24.

“I saw a lot of kids in my office that bounced back home,” she said “Their parents were pulling out their hair — they thought it was all lined up and they were despondent.”

Tillman’s blog gives families advice on a wide range of issues, including how to tour prospective colleges, help their kids address mental health issues , and what topics to bring up with children when they come home for Thanksgiving and winter breaks. She even has three college students writing about their first-year campus experiences.

Tillman hopes her blog will let the public know about the wide variety of resources social workers can offer them.

“Yes, there can be misconceptions about social workers having a limited scope which is so far from the truth,” she said. “My blog educates parents and students and professionals as well as demonstrating the exciting and creative niches that social workers can carve.”

She urges other social workers blog too, provided they have something interesting and important to say.

“It takes a lot of dedication. It takes a lot of time. It takes creativity. And it takes persistence,” she said.

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  1. I don’t see how anyone can react other than positively to this. Maureen Tillman, LCSW is clearly providing a needed and valuable service. I commend her for all of her efforts which obviously take a lot of commitment on her part.
    Keep up the good work Maureen! :o)

    E. A. Wahrburg, MSW, LCSW (NC, NY)

  2. What a great thing this is.

    Talking with individuals in Pastoral Care, I’ve come to understand that it is often difficult for mature adults whose children have left the home to adjust. They’ve spent a large portion of their marriage focusing on the children and may not know how to adjust to and enjoy each other in this new stage of their marriage. This has resulted in some of those who have been married for 30+ years astonishingly and seemingly out of nowhere getting divorces after their children leave the home. If your service doesn’t do this already, perhaps an additional resource to help these parents cope with this new aspect of their lives and relationships might be a great addition.

  3. Hi Maureen, I couldn’t agree with you more that social workers can use blogging as a way of sharing their expertise, providing resources and using it in other ways. This is one of the reasons I created my Advocacy BC blog, to offer links and resources and create a page where social justice, child welfare and social policy issues are discussed and linked to pertinent media.

    Thanks for offering such a great place for people to get information and help.


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