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Going off to college can be both a frightening and exciting experience. However, Muhlenberg College's director of counseling says kids - and their parents - can survive that difficult first semester.

"Most high-school seniors are fearful of leaving their old friends and scared they won't meet new people," says Linda Bips, director for counseling and development. "They don't realize that their world is about to open up with new experiences and friendships."Bips says the start of college is also a difficult time for parents. She has this advice: "Try to step back and believe in your son or daughter's ability to be an adult."

And for college freshmen, she has these suggestions:

- It's OK to feel scared, lonely and homesick during those first days and weeks on campus.

- Bring some of your favorite possessions from home; anything that makes you feel more comfortable in your new surroundings.

- Join a club or participate in an activity you enjoy. Make the effort to get out of your room.

- Have patience. Students often don't make close friends until the second semester.

- Stay at school several weekends in a row. Give yourself at least six weeks to adjust. If you want to see your family, invite them to visit you.

- If you're really feeling down, talk to a school counselor or student advisor.

For a copy of "Going Off to College," send a stamped, self-addressed, business-size envelope to: Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown, PA 18104.