Allowing the relationship between you and your student to evolve will require flexibility, trust, compromise, and support. It will be a transition that will be worth the growing pains.
Along the way, remember:
- Maintain conversations as a family that have a balanced mixture of what’s happening on campus and what’s happening at home.
- Encourage self-advocacy as students seek out staff and faculty for personal and academic support.
- Know that mistakes happen. Part of this newfound sense of independence involves the inevitable making of mistakes as students take risks which often lead to growth.
- As a student, get involved in clubs and organizations, contribute to the community, and seek out experiential learning opportunities.
- As a parent, believe in your student. As your student tries new things, develops an expanded worldview, and questions assumptions, their perspective may change. Students will experiment because, at the root of it all, they know that someone back home believes in their intelligence, their initiative, and their ability to make good, informed decisions.
Tips for Helping Your Student Make the Most of the College Experience
- Encourage co-curricular activity. Campus involvement builds lasting friendships.
- Help identify networks of support. Allow your student to develop self-advocacy skills.
- Emphasize the need for communications with professors. They are not the enemy.
- Allow for independent decision making. Allow for failure too.
- Encourage balance. Mixing work and play reduces stress.
- Understand that roommate conflicts will occur. Learning to work out differences is an important growth opportunity.
- Encourage exploration and the use of advising resources. No major? No problem. Now is the time for considering lots of options.
- Promote the pursuit of internships. Internships increase hiring power.
- Advocate for off-campus experiences. They put the liberal arts experience into practice and provide life-changing experiences.
- Suggest your student draft a resume in the first year. Career development begins early.