Some Ways to Support Your Student

  • Encourage your student to take part in Taking Stock, a valuable program that supports students in their transition to college
  • Write, email, call, or text
  • Let your student determine how long/frequently you should communicate
  • Help them take charge when they have a problem
  • Encourage them to discuss concerns or problems with their RA
  • Visit campus if possible, especially during Family Weekend
  • Ask questions, but not too many
  • Expect changes in your student
  • Don’t worry too much about urgent phone calls - sometimes the student will share concerns and then return to their routine, often leaving you with the worry
  • Share positive news from home, and share family and pet photos

Some Differences Between High School and College

  High School College
Teacher/Student Contact

Contact is closer and more frequent (5 days a week)

Faculty are available during office hours and by appointment to address concerns
Competition/Grades Academic competition is not as strong; good grades might be obtained with minimal effort Academic competition is stronger, and minimum effort may produce poor grades
Status Students establish a personal status in academic and social activities based on family and community factors Students can build their status as they wish; previous status can be repeated or changed
Counseling/Dependence Students can rely on family, teachers, and counselors to help make decisions and give
advice; students abide by parents’ boundaries
Students rely on themselves; see results of their own decisions; it’s their responsibility to seek advice and set their own restrictions
Motivation Students receive motivation to achieve or participate from families/teachers/counselors Students apply their own motivation to their work and activities as they wish
Freedom Students’ freedom is limited; families often help students out of a crisis should one arise Students have more freedom and must accept responsibility for their own actions
Distractions There are distractions from school, but these are partially controlled by school and home Time management is more important; the opportunity for more distractions exists
Value Judgements Students often make value judgements based on family values; thus, many of their value judgements are made for them Students have the opportunity to see the world through their own eyes and develop their own opinions and values


The Rhythm & Challenges of College Life

Certain times in the academic year tend to be universally challenging to students, but knowing some of the typical adjustment experiences faced during the first year of college can be beneficial as you support your student.

  • August/September: Excitement; testing new-found freedom; frequent calls and visits home; homesickness and loneliness; anxiety about roommates, professors, and classes; first exams; use/abuse of alcohol and other substances; concern over weight gain
  • October: Roommate problems begin to arise; students question, “Do I fit in here?”; first test grades returned; midterm exams; relationships from home remain strong; consequences of decision-making experienced
  • November: Midterm grades returned; roommate challenges become more clear; many exams and papers due before fall break; first series of campus-wide illness (cold, flu, strep, etc.)
  • December: Anxiety over preparation for finals; excitement and/or anxiety regarding winter break plans; sadness about leaving new friendships and/or love relationships; roommate challenges continue
  • January: “Fresh Start” mentality sets in with the new semester; satisfaction and/or disappointment with fall semester grades; homesickness; loneliness for love relationships back home; relief being away from home and back at school
  • February: Feelings of claustrophobia and depression of winter set in; potential increase in alcohol and other substance abuse; challenges with relationships back home; Valentine’s Day may bring out loneliness/isolation
  • March: Anxiety regarding finding roommate(s) for next year; excitement and/or disappointment regarding Spring Break plans; midterm exam stress; concern over summer employment; concern over winter weight gain
  • April: Concern over declaring major; end of semester pressure; excitement with arrival of spring
  • May: Final exam anxiety; apprehension or excitement about returning home for the summer; sadness over leaving new friendships and/or love relationships at school; realization of how college influences life decisions